Last Sunday night, a popular pro-life blogger known as "April's Mom" or "B" posted the tragic news: Her newborn daughter, whom she had carried to term though diagnosed with a terminal case of Trisomy 13 and HPE, had died hours after a difficult home birth. This marked the end of the nine-month journey she had shared with the world on her blog, Little One April, where she chronicled her struggles, pains, and hopes as she traveled the journey many would have ended after such devastating news. She wrote often of the centrality of her Christian faith and pro-life values to her decision and motivation, and filled her posts with Bible verses and Christian music. Her readers lauded her courage, prayed for God to save the baby, and sent gifts anticipating her arrival: a baby hat, a pair of little shoes, a hair bow, a crocheted blanket. Pro-life bloggers rallied around this embodiment of the cause, linking to the blog and adding "Pray for April Rose" buttons to their own.
It could have ended there, but "April's mom" decided to post a picture of the baby, a picture that was quickly identified by some readers as not a baby at all, but a "Reborn doll," a vinyl toy made to look like a real newborn. The entire story quickly unraveled; April's mom was actually 26-year-old social worker Rebecca Beushausen, a Chicago-area woman who had not been pregnant at all, though she had lost a child in 2005.
All that is left of the blog now is an apology - and a media mess. In her final post, Beushausen wrote, "I am a Christian and while I wrote many of my posts under dishonest contexts, the God I shared with all of you and wrote about is still God; the Creator or life, Father and Savior. I hope to regain my relationship back with Him, fully, myself." She went on to apologize for her actions - she never intended for anyone outside her immediate circle to find or read the blog - and to link readers to a site for families actually dealing with T13 pregnancies.
So why did this happen? Beushausen told the Chicago Tribune that "I've always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear. Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand. I didn't know how to stop …. One lie led to another." But there's no hiding on the Internet; though Beushausen scrambled to remove the blog, along with its accompanying Twitter and Facebook pages, when it became clear she had blown her cover, the details of her identity came spilling out over the blogosphere and then the national news over the course of a few days.
While many of the blog's followers feel emotionally exploited - like Jennifer McKinney, who at Rebecca's urging promoted it on her popular site MyCharmingKids.net - others were at least happy to have helped in some way; Jennifer Myers, who, along with her husband sold T-shirts and sent money to support April, told the Tribune of Rebecca, "She's someone who needed love and attention, and we gave her that."
In the wake of the Tiller shooting, the rhetoric of the pro-life movement has already found itself under more intense media scrutiny. Just how far will we go to defend the right to life? How far is too far?
Beushausen reports that in place of the gifts, she is now receiving hate mail. Just two weeks ago she wrote these eerily prophetic words on her blog:
We can't do this life on our own. Or, well, I will speak for myself; I know, I can't do it on my own. But more than that, I have been created by God, for God, in love. And He lives in and through me, and He weeps when I weep …
And, yes, it does feel horrible at times. But He said that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that nothing and nobody can take me from His hands. And I don't know how all of this works out, but I believe that if I continue to do what He wants me to do, tomorrow will be better. And if tomorrow doesn't seem less painful and alone, than the next day, or maybe the next.
one thing I do know is that the hurt can't be forever, because this [life] isn't forever, and knowing that promise from Him to me, from Him to you, makes the hardest parts of life a bit easier to bear.
Ultimately, Rebecca Beushausen's blog experiment is not one with far-reaching implications for the pro-life movement or its rhetoric; it is a story of one troubled woman's struggle to deal with deep pain. And to that, we must respond in love, affirming the unconditional love of our God, whose glory is not diminished by the broken people who serve him.
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