Silent Cry in the Womb: “Et tu mama?”

I am pro-choice in the abortion debate but I part ways with the crowd who want to feel better about abortion by dehumanizing and isolating the unborn. The title of my poem comes from “Et tu, Brute?” (meaning “And you too, Brutus?”) the reputed last words of Julius Caesar, uttered in shock that his beloved Brutus was among the conspirators stabbing him to death. The idea is that when the aborted child confronts its impending death and turns around to see its mother’s face among the “conspirators”, it cannot help but ask in shock, “Et tu, mama?” (And you too, my mum?). In the poem itself, there is a further question: “Et tu, doctor?” This aims to capture the irony that the two people whose presence comforts us most when our health is in distress (mum and the doctor) are the same people who comprise the lethal duo of the abortion clinic. Shorn of the care of our customary caregivers, someone must stand by the aborted child in its final hours.


What makes you human without your limbs,
Human without your nose and toes –
What makes you human without your ears
Makes the unborn me human without your form.
Yes, it’s my essence, not form, which counts:
Be not liberal in defining gender yet conservative
in defining life.

By one sentence do mass killings in the world
and womb begin:
“They don’t look like us and don’t act like us:
they’re not human.”
Today, I heard hushed voices say so – then
came a sharp pain.
How I wished sweet mum or the doctor would
I little knew they were here and directed the attack.

“Et tu, mama? Et tu, doctor?” Dying words, I uttered.
“Your life is not good for ours,” they said.
Out of my cradle they forced me and whisked me
past the world into the grave.
“It’s my body, my choices,” I heard mum say.
Yet I challenge not what she does with her body but
with mine:
It’s “my body, my choices” after all, in this her world.

My flesh is aborted but not my voice; lend it your lips,
for mine are gone.
Then, perhaps, the unborn shall like the dead rest in
peace some day:
Not belittled, not assaulted, shielded with concrete
and taboos…
Behind me gut microbes swarm and play where side
by side we formerly lay.
Now mum’s cuddly flesh they enjoy better than me —
They must think they’re her babies and me the

Copyright © Agona Apell | Year Posted 2022


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