WARNING: Spoiler concerning The Walking Dead, up to and including part of Season 3. You have been warned!
WARNING TWO: Very serious/controversial subject matter. You have been warned, again.
Let's talk about post-apocalyptic sex and its consequences, shall we?
On the one hand, we suspect that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, ardor would cool, given things like fleeing and fighting and scrounging basic supplies and fearing for one's life. (Not to mention, a possible lack of available facilities for decent physical hygiene.) There would not be a lot of time for relaxed, intimate occasions.
On the other hand, though, there would also exist a very primal need to connect with another survivor, to escape the horror of the present and to seek out a molecule or two of pleasure. Without normal social constraints, opportunities would no doubt be taken more often than one might otherwise expect. "We might die tomorrow." Yes, people might. And yet, they might not.
Therein lies the problem: unprotected post-apocalyptic sex -- like unprotected pre-apocalyptic sex -- can lead to pregnancy.
In The Walking Dead, character Lori becomes pregnant. Can we imagine what is going through her head? She is unsure as to the father of the baby: it could be Shane, who protected her and her son Carl when they all assumed her husband Rick was dead; or it could be Rick, who surprisingly turned up still alive. How will Rick's near death and Lori's inadvertent adulterous relationship with Shane color how Lori feels about being pregnant? How can she consider aborting a pregnancy created with a man -- either man -- for whom she has genuine, strong feelings?
We are reminded of a conversation Herself had, eons and eons ago, with her Long-Term Acquaintance. They were walking down a street after some soft of function. It was after Herself and her Beloved were engaged, but before they were married. Herself does not remember how the topic of the timing of children and pregnancy came up -- it's not the sort of conversation she would initiate. All she remembers is her Long-Term Acquaintance saying: "Even if you're married, if it's not a good time, you can always abort and try again later." Herself remembers being thoroughly appalled. The very thought of aborting a fetus conceived with her Beloved was shocking. It was a stunningly cavalier attitude. Herself would never consider such a thing. It is easily imaginable that other women would feel similarly.
But what about the state of the world? How will they survive? Where can they be safe? What kind of life will the child have? A life of uncertain span, possibly fraught with danger at every turn.
Lori obtains Plan B from a defunct pharmacy, but after taking the pills, purposefully vomits them up again before then can affect her. (Side note: it's doubtful that the pills would have, in fact, interrupted the pregnancy. Plan B is designed to delay ovulation or hamper fertilization of an egg, but will not interfere with an implanted fertilized egg. Given that Lori has a positive pregnancy test, she is too far along for Plan B to work.) Even assuming she had a means to interrupt the pregnancy, though, her actions show that she has chosen to continue the pregnancy.
There could have been a fascinating and impossible plot point: what if Lori had tried, and failed, to interrupt the pregnancy? Her character would have had to live with the difficulty and guilt of having made such a decision, and then having to adjust to continuing the pregnancy to term. That would be a tremendously complex emotional state to try to portray. It could not be done, though: the world is not ready for prime-time viewing of reluctant motherhood. So much of humanity harbors the hope that every conception is ultimately embraced by a woman. The miracle of life.
Leaving aside the viewpoint of the sacredness of life from the moment of conception (and leave aside this viewpoint we must, in order to fully parse the difficulty of Lori's situation), it seems clear that pregnancy would put a tremendous strain on survival. Even in the hardiest of women, there is additional necessary caloric input required, as well as decreased mobility and ability to take on certain tasks towards the end of the pregnancy. The potential for medical complications -- particularly when Lori knows that Carl was delivered by a necessary C-section, which might indicate possible labor-related complications -- could be high, particularly without prenatal care. Even if delivery somehow went smoothly, how can one care for an infant when running water, food, and shelter cannot be guaranteed on any given day? When zombies are attracted by noise - such as crying? An infant puts not only Lori, but everyone in the group, in a precarious situation.
And what if the unthinkable happens, as it does, and Lori does not survive the delivery? The child will grow up motherless, if it grows up at all. The group is left with a helpless newborn and no means to feed it. Lori has drained group resources and added a burden, and then left the group alone with the situation. Was it selfish of her to do so? Could it have been avoided? What else could have been done?
Is the child somehow a mysterious blessing? A sign of hope for the future, a purpose and goal for the community - to raise the baby despite the terrible situation? In truth, that's an unlikely outcome. Not impossible. Just unlikely. We shall see, as we continue watching Season 3 of The Walking Dead, how matters are handled.
What if Lori's baby had been an intended pregnancy in its early stages when the apocalypse struck? Would we have looked at that differently? I think so. Though the ramifications of a pregnancy would have been similar, the attitude would have been very different. It is the unplanned nature of Lori's pregnancy that makes it so difficult. Irresponsible. Dangerous. A Bad Idea.
Back we arrive at the initial topic: post-apocalyptic sex. What have we learned?
After the apocalypse, use contraceptives. Even if you might die tomorrow. Because you might not.
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