Screenshot via Twitter

When Niki Ashton announced that she’s expecting, I was pretty excited for the inevitable worst hot take.

But the announcement that someone is going to give birth is a hard one for right-wing men to get mad about. After all, babies are the pinnacle of women’s achievement.

So when run-of-the-mill right-wing hack Brian Lilley managed to squeeze out the tweet we had all been waiting for, it was a moment of catharsis: almost as good as the minute that you eject your placenta across the delivery room floor.

(Or, at least that’s what I imagine happens. I’ve never had a vaginal delivery. I don’t know what it’s like.)

Lilley, reaching so very hard to say something, ejaculated this: “When @nikiashton announced she was pregnant she avoided the words baby or child. Congrats Niki but let’s admit you are having a baby.”

Ignoring the fact that no one can be pregnant with a child, for obvious physical reasons, it’s worth noting that Ashton responded with a great burn.

Unlike Lilley, I have been pregnant and I have given birth. And his condemnation of Ashton’s refusal to announce that she is pregnant with, I assume, a tiny little human raises a fascinating discussion. What exactly is that lump of cells called, as Lilley later argued that us Leftists call fetuses? Is there consensus from the men on what we should collectively call an unborn adult?

Being pregnant was the worst. For me, it was seven months of worry, illness and stress. I honour those individuals for whom pregnancy is a period of glowing, rock-hard nails, full and bountiful hair and non-stop daydreaming about their future bundle of joy.

But for me, it was not that. Every ultrasound I had brought new and difficult news. I struggled to call the two cell clusters growing within me my babies. But not for the twisted, anti-woman way that Lilley and his ilk might think.

I couldn’t call them my babies for the same reason that I couldn’t furnish their room, or procure the necessary supplies. I was scared that neither of them would be born. I was terrified that I would never be able to meet them.

Avoiding naming them as babies helped me suspend myself until the moments that I heard their first cries, and then know that regardless of whatever came next, I would at least have been able to meet my babies.

They are threenagers now, having gone from those first clusters of cells that made me too sick to walk or eat, to toddlers who are too busy to allow for me to be sick or eat.

At the heart of this issue is how the right uses language to restrict and deny access to reproductive health care. That anyone who believes that parents have the right to choose an abortion must also, therefore, not believe that a fetus is a baby.

Coming to terms with the fact that you will be a parent is a difficult process, and we all have our own coping mechanisms, traditions, cultural practices and intimate relationships to guide us along this path. Whether we gestate a peanut, a bean, a li’l slugger, a baby, a dinosaur or whatever we call it, it is the extension of our own personal journeys.

What you have inside you during those nine months evolves. For me, everything conceptually changed when they started kicking each other. But that’s not everyone’s experience, and it absolutely should not be generalized as such.

The people who weaponize the use of the word baby are our society’s lowest form of pond-scum-sucking parasite. This transparent rhetorical tool is simply another way for these men to exert their control over our minds, while they work to use laws to exert control on our bodies.

To assume that a progressive person doesn’t call their fetus a baby for political reasons is deeply insulting and offensive, and Lilley should be embarrassed and ashamed.

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Nora Loreto

Nora Loreto is a writer, musician and activist based in Québec City. She is the author of From Demonized to Organized, Building the New Union Movement and is the editor of the Canadian Association...