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to think I didn't do anything wrong? Trigger - abortion/miscarriage

(29 Posts)
Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 21:11:50

This issue has been resolved now, but I can't stop thinking about it.

I can't remember how the topic of abortion came up, but a few days ago I mentioned those fake pictures of pre-term foetuses allegedly looking exactly like full-term newborns but smaller that circulate on the internet. I said they were fake and made me very angry.

The next day a colleague emails me saying this had upset her tremendously. She had had a miscarriage and could tell me these pictures are real and 'it is true'. She then proceeded to tell me that for some people life is precious irrespective of the age of gestation. She said it was incredibly painful for someone to say that everybody will have to die sometime. Before everyone jumps down my throat, I obviously did not say anything of the sort! She then said she hoped her message would change my views (not that I expressed any beyond being angry at the fact that fake pictures are used in the abortion debate), but didn't expect they would.

I replied explaining what I meant and apologising for any upset caused. I think everything is OK now, but I can't stop thinking that I really didn't do anything wrong. Surely I wasn't being insensitive or offensive to somebody who has had a miscarriage by expressing anger about lies being used in the abortion debate? I didn't even express an opinion on abortion (I know better than to that in the workplace!). So, AIBU to think I didn't do anything wrong and to conclude that my colleague was upset by other things (her miscarriage) and is projecting it onto my comments?

ghostyslovesheep Thu 05-May-16 21:20:38

I've had five MC and I agree with you OP - the pictures are fake and you did nowt wrong saying so

But people are sensitive sometimes - best thing would be to apologise for an offence and move on x

Ywnbu, I think you have understood the situation correctly - she's upset about her miscarriage and projecting. You can't avoid every vaguely related conversation, and you were already conscious of not saying anything controversial so I would try not to take it to heart.

Mumberjack Thu 05-May-16 21:25:30

Your colleague isn't being unreasonable to be upset by the thought of images on the internet which are very similar to her child and how they remind her of her own tragedy.

The pro life campaigners behind these images are very aware of people's experience of miscarriage therefore exploit this for their own ends.

I don't think you were unreasonable to express your anger about these images, but if you knew about your colleagues miscarriage, maybe a bit insensitive to talk about fake dead foetuses at all.

Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 21:31:09

Thanks for your replies everyone! Mumberjack I did not know about her miscarriage, she told me in the email she sent me. Oh well, all seems OK now.

vdbfamily Thu 05-May-16 21:32:51

I think lies are told on both sides of the debate. I have never seen faked photos but maybe the gestation period is not stated clearly. I think a bigger lie is convincing women that foetuses are just 'blobs of jelly' which I have heard said and seems to be quite a common argument. Below is a quote from a fetal development website which claims at 11 weeks 'your baby is almost fully formed'
I am not sure what photos you are referring to but I think this is probably what your colleague was meaning. I lost 2 babies at 12 weeks gestation and they are recognisable as tiny babies

Your baby is almost fully formed, though he's still only about the size of a fig. He's growing longer and stronger, and his bones are beginning to harden. He can hiccup, though it's still too soon for you to feel it.

totalrecall1 Thu 05-May-16 21:34:03


Pixienott0005 Thu 05-May-16 21:35:37

To be honest op id never discuss abortion with anyone at work, in any context. It's a really sensitive subject that some have very strong views on. I can also imagine it'd. Spark a debate that could be uncomfortable for some to hear, I.e people who have had abortions or who have family that have. The subject is a bit of a mind field, one that I choose to stay out of at work if it comes up because I don't agree with talking about something so sensitive in front of people who's lives I don't really know much about.

But no you e said nothing that sounds offensive to your colleagues miscarriage. I'm honestly struggling to understand the connection with what you said and her having a miscarriage. They are unrelated.

vdbfamily Thu 05-May-16 21:35:53

I have now googled the fake photo of a 12 week foetus that was in fact a resin replica of a full term baby. Not sure if this is what people are referring to but agree it is very different to a 12 week gestation foetus/baby which is more translucent.

ExAstris Thu 05-May-16 21:36:21

I really don't want to get into an argument here as I find this topic very upsetting, so I'm going to try and write as clearly and unprovocatively as I can. I can understand where your colleague is coming from tbh. One thing pro-choice people tend to do in the debate is to minimise the "baby-ness" of a fetus (e.g. by calling it a fetus rather than a baby, by calling it a "bunch of cells" etc), the same as pro-life people tend to emphasize the "baby-ness" (by showing pictures of little hands, beating hearts, fetuses sucking their thumbs etc). Having had a miscarriage myself, when people call the baby I lost a bunch of cells it can be easy to feel very defensive. I nearly re-wrote that last sentence to make clear that people aren't specifically saying that about MY miscarriage, my baby, but I think letting it stand shows how I instinctively feel about it - people dehumanising a baby of the same gestation as mine was when he died in defending another mother's right to terminate her pregnancy feels like a direct attack on my and my husband's much loved and wanted baby. The logical conclusion to "It's just a bunch of cells, it's not a baby yet" etc is that a woman who miscarries can only be upset at the loss of potential (which leads to stupid platitudes such as "Don't worry you're both still young" and "There must've been something wrong with it") rather than grieving an individual.

ManonCrempog Thu 05-May-16 21:42:00

YANBU but I reckon she probably saw a lot when she MCd and felt that it was important that she pointed that out. It may have felt like a betrayal of the baby she lost not to say something. I was really shocked how much I could see and identify after a pretty early mc.

You've done nothing wrong though. She's just hurting.

Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 21:42:31

vdbfamily I acknowledged in my email to her that babies born at very early gestation can be recognisable as babies - I figured that she might have misinterpreted what I said. The photos I mean are ones that purport to show babies born at very early gestation but looking exactly like a full-term newborn (only smaller). As for lies in the abortion debate - you are probably right. One of many reasons I am very hesitant to express views on this issue other than to my partner.

flowers to you and ghosty and others having suffered miscarriages!

Primaryteach87 Thu 05-May-16 21:42:48

I've also had miscarriages

Whilst your view isn't wrong, perhaps the way you expressed it didn't consider fully the sensitive nature of the whole area of life before birth.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to speak about it, but maybe acknowledge that those who are listening may be coming from a different (painful) perspective.

livewyre Thu 05-May-16 21:45:30

YANBU- the pictures with the 'baby' in the palm are fake.

However, if you're unlucky enough to pass a tiny foetus, yes, they're more translucent etc, but beyond the skin, it does look 'human'. Tiny head. Tiny legs. So, if she's seen her 'products' and is mourning, that picture may appear 'true'.

So, you are both right. Or wrong.

Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 21:50:00

OK, massive cross-posts going on here. Thanks for everyone's insights. ExAstris Yes, language is a massive issue in the abortion debate and I can see how it would be upsetting for you to hear people talk about it like that (I didn't though) 'Abortion' came up as a suggested classroom discussion topic and I actually mentioned I thought it was madness that anyone would deem it an appropriate topic and the conversation moved on from there (can't remember how). vdbfamily, yes those are the pictures I meant. Manon I am so sorry to hear about your experience, that must have been harrowing.

BillSykesDog Thu 05-May-16 21:50:35

Well, you've learned a lesson. Don't get draw into conversations about things like this at work. Sex, religion, politics, anything controversial - just walk away, don't get drawn in no matter how strongly you feel about it.

Work just isn't the sort of place for these conversations.

Pseudo341 Thu 05-May-16 21:51:57

YANBU. Falsifying evidence is not wrong and it's okay to point out when evidence has been falsified.

Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 21:54:25

ExAstris 'It' being your miscarriage, not the baby you lost - sorry! Primary I will take that into consideration (although the impression I got was that my colleague wanted me to be entirely against abortion, rather than just being more sensitive about it). I would like to think I am sensitive about life before birth, it just hadn't occurred to me that my comment (which to me was a statement of fact) could be perceived as insensitive or upsetting.

Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 21:57:15

Bill You'd be surprised at the stuff that gets discussed in my workplace - politics being a big one... Can't say I always feel comfortable with that either and often wonder if those colleagues are wise to do so...

NeedACleverNN Thu 05-May-16 22:01:39

We actually had a thread on here about that picture before.
Posted by me.
Most people agreed that yes it was fake but there were quite a few pro-lifers who insisted it was real. It got very heated at one point

Puffinity Thu 05-May-16 22:06:17

NeedACleverNN I remember that thread! That is in fact how I knew about the existence of these pictures!

NeedACleverNN Thu 05-May-16 22:12:47

It made an awful read at one point.
Especially when people started posting about their late terminations due to the baby being in terrible health and the pro-lifers started to go nuts

bumbleymummy Thu 05-May-16 22:49:14

I remember that thread too. I guess it depends on which photos you and she were talking about. You may have both been thinking of different ones. On the other thread, someone had also linked to photos from a miscarriage website which people also tried to say were fake. I think some people are surprised at how early a foetus actually does look human.

Primaryteach87 Thu 05-May-16 22:50:03

Yes, she might want you to change your position, but obviously in that regard she is BU.

I am pro choice in theory but in practice after having 4 miscarriages I find the idea of abortion very upsetting and also couldn't have one myself. This was a big change for me, as previously thought it was totally fine.
Not sure exactly what I'm saying! Just that I do think the two topics abortion and miscarriage are instrinsicly linked for some of us.

It doesn't mean you're are wrong that organisations shouldn't use falsified images.

BillSykesDog Thu 05-May-16 22:53:48

Puffin, honestly, even if other people do it, just walk away. Never does any good in the long run and always causes trouble.

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