When "B" found out that she was pregnant with a terminally ill child, she turned to God and the Internet for support. The latter was quick to respond: Thousands of abortion opponents flocked to her blog with prayers for her "miracle baby" and high praise for her righteous refusal to terminate. Web followers wept over her story, mailed gifts and hand-written letters, bought t-shirts to show solidarity and swapped deeply personal heart-wrenching stories. On Sunday, the young Chicago woman wrote that she had given birth to April, a beautiful baby girl, and shared photos of the precious newborn. Then she delivered some much-feared news: April died hours later.
The real tragedy, however, is that it was all a lie.
The elaborately crafted hoax quickly unraveled after "B's" birth post. Reader Elizabeth Russell, a doll maker, tells the Chicago Tribune that when she saw the photos of little April, she suddenly realized: "I have that exact doll in my house." The baby in the photos was a Reborn Doll, those homemade creations that look like real children preserved in wax. This bears repeating: "B" took photos of a creepily realistic doll wrapped in blankets and then made a black-and-white collage that included snapshots of a real newborn. She then pretended it was her soon-to-be-dead baby. (Check the photos here and here.) A blogger at "Random Ramblings of a Mom," who "prayed for this little girl daily," writes: "I noticed the babies in the [collage] were not the same baby and the baby looked fake, like a doll even." Yes, indeed.
Word spread and "B" quickly tried to erase herself from the Web, but her true identity was revealed, nonetheless: Beccah Beushausen, a 26-year-old social worker (of all things). When the Tribune called, she immediately admitted the scam and said, "I know what I did was wrong. I've been getting hate mail. I'm sorry because people were so emotionally involved." (Interesting how in her mind the hate mail seems to take priority.) Beushausen claims she was emotionally involved, too: She says she began the blog as a way to cope with the death of a newborn son in 2005. The reader response to her posts became "addictive" and she couldn't stop, Beushausen says. It sounds like she craved attention -- to a degree that is deeply psychologically unwell. So, while I feel tremendous sympathy for the thousands of readers she exploited with her emotionally compelling soap opera, it's hard not to feel a bit for someone who is so clearly damaged.
Since the scam was revealed just one week after Dr. George Tiller's death, it immediately brings his patients to mind. After all, they were women who lived the real-life version of this fake story. They passionately wanted a child, but for devastating medical reasons chose to abort to save their own life or to prevent the baby's suffering. If there is some common ground in the abortion wars, I would hope this would be it: The tragedy of losing a much desired child.