In this generation of social media, everyone has a platform to allow their voice to be heard. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and an endless array of blogs allow people to launch themselves along with their pictures, personal life, philosophies, and opinions out into the wide-open terrain of the internet. With the constantly roaming eye of society on this endless smorgasbord of personalities, stars are born, love is found, bullies roam, and ideas are shared.
The television also allows us to make our voices heard electronically. Reality TV and game shows implore us to place our votes on what dancer, survivor, or weight-loss contestant we want to stay on the show or to be sent home. We have the control. We have the power to voice our opinion and get things done.
A Minneapolis couple, Pete and Alisha Arnold, have chosen to combine these two modes of public opinion communication – the internet and voting – and have decided to give us control of their fertility. Alisha is 16 weeks pregnant. Pete and Alisha have put up a website allowing people to vote on whether or not they should give birth to their child or abort it. December 9th marks the last day that they would be able to legally have an abortion. They say they will tally the votes two days before the 9th and see what decision the electronic majority of strangers has made on their behalf.
The Arnolds have been pregnant three times before, but all three were miscarried.
Pete and Alisha claim they are trying to give a voice to the people. They address the issue on the site as being a hot topic that most people have an opinion on but can do very little about it except to share their thoughts on the website. They say that most people don’t have much effect on the issues unless they get into a position of power. They want to put the power in our hands and give us the chance “to actually make a difference in the real world”.
“Voting is such an integral part of the American identity. We vote on everything. We vote on things ranging from the best singer on American Idol to who the next leader of the free world will be. Wouldn’t it be nice to voice your opinion and have it actually make a difference in the real world? Why not vote on whether to continue or abort an actual pregnancy? Your vote can help a real couple to make a decision on this issue.”
This website is rampant with controversy. Many people have commented on the website that they cannot decide whether this couple is serious or if this is some sort of sick joke. The comments run the gamut: extreme anger, sorrow, pleading to put the child up for adoption, to vehement support for the idea. So far, 27, 247 people have placed their votes: 80.95% (22,057 votes) are for giving birth to the child and 19.05% (5,190 votes) are for having an abortion.
On December 7th at the earliest, we should know the results of the voting. This is very reminiscent of the gladiator games of Rome. The loser in the arena is at the mercy of the crowd who are vying for either a thumbs up or a thumbs down from the emperor. The difference is the unborn child will not get a chance to defend him- or herself.