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Chapter 9
Alternate Alternatives

Life Begins at the Hop

by LAURIE NEIDERGAARDEN, Alternate Reality News Service Medical Writer

Eleanor Przsewski looks over her tiny charges with all of the affection and pride a doting mother can muster. "Now, 1-0-7-8-4-3," she gently chides, "you've already had your share of amniotic fluid - give the other children a chance."

Przsewski turns away from the petri dishes and gently confides: "I wasn't expecting the children to be so competitive. I mean, they all have warmth and enough nutrients to allow them to grow healthily outside the womb - they don't need anything else. It's just nature's way, I suppose."

Eleanor Przsewski's "children" are fertilized eggs harvested from her friends and neighbours who conceived but ultimately didn't want children. Taking the President's "culture of life" rhetoric seriously - some would say too seriously - Przsewski decided to take cells that had started dividing, cells that were well on their way to becoming full human beings, into her home.

Przsewski gave the first five hundred or so names, but when the number of fertilized eggs she had taken in climbed into the thousands, this became impractical. She regrets the impersonality of numbering the cells, but allows that it makes dealing with the dividing cells much easier. "When we got to Luke-27 and John-54, it just became obvious that numbers would be the most important way of identifying the children, so we went with that," Przsewski sighed.

Good friend and sometime helper Philomena Dombrowski thought there was another reason for the move to give the cells numbers instead of names. "Most of them don't last a week in those petri dishes," Dombrowski explained, "and it just about broke Eleanor's heart to bury 'em. I think she gives them numbers so she doesn't have to feel their loss so deeply."

Przsewski went on to say that if any of the fertilized eggs looked like they would actually go on to become a viable human being, she would replace the number with a proper name. "It would be, like, a six month conception day present," she said.

The fertilized eggs, four to a dish, are spread out on every available surface of six of the Przsewski household's nine rooms. Heat lamps keep them at womb temperature. Przsewski has developed a complex of tubes that ensure that each of the dishes is well stocked with nutrients.

The fertilized eggs are harvested and delivered to the Przsewski household by a group of neighbourhood volunteers at all hours of the day. While many of her neighbours are unsympathetic, if not openly hostile to Przsewski's pursuits, she nonetheless gets a lot of cooperation from the Catholics who live nearby. One woman, who asked not to be identified, said she believed in life, believed with all her heart, but she was already raising seven children, and, since birth control was not an option for her, if somebody was willing to take the burden of raising additional children off her hands, she was all for it.

Then, with a big breath, she went off to see whose diapers needed changing.

Around dusk, the burials - Przsewski sucks up the fluid in the petri dishes with a syringe and injects it into the dirt behind her house - take place. "Last Thursday was a bad one," Przsewski stated. "We had to bury 1,327 children. Any day we can bury under 1,000 is a good day."

Alfred Przsewski, Eleanor's husband, refused to be interviewed for this article. However, during our interview with his wife, he was heard to grumble about not having his meals prepared for him any more and having his house turned into one huge science laboratory.

"Allie and I don't exactly agree on everything," Przsewski allows, "but he's a good man, and I know, in his heart, he supports my actions." Behind her words, a careful listener can hear that, for the good of life, sacrifices have to be made.

"Eleanor is a good Christian woman," Father Tom Fogerty, Przsewski's priest, states, "a good Catholic. But, sometimes, she scares me."

"I don't hold with those namby-pamby Catholics who are only willing to protect six or seven month old fetuses," Przsewski defends her position. "Either you believe life begins at conception, or you don't. But, to say you do and not do everything in your power to ensure that every fertilized egg has the chance to become a human being, well, that's just hypocrisy if you ask me. Hypocrisy, plain and simple."

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