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"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Elizabeth Cady Stanton



Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Contemporary View of Abortion from a Novel

I love to read. Over the summer holidays I probably read through at least a book a week, most of them fantasy or mystery novels. I did branch out a bit though, and read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

First off, it was an amazing book so don't let this entry dissuade you from reading it. This book is set up as a historical mystery and adult fairy tale rolled into one. One of the most poignant and driving themes of the book is the connection we feel with our family - our need to know who are family is and our need to have a family of our own. Much of the novel deals with the relationship between mother and daughter: the strength of such a bond, and the emptiness felt when such a bond is non-existant. I found it curious, and rather sad, when abortion was mentioned in a very cursory manner.

A secondary character mentions, just before the climax of the novel, that she regrets never becoming a mother, but had an abortion when she was a young woman because, at the time time of her pregnancy, she wasn't ready to start a family. The reaction of the main character to this story is strangely lifeless, considering she has spent most of her time within the novel struggling to find out who her grandmother's true parents were, and considering her own backstory (her husband and child were killed in a car crash). The story barely pauses at this point, and simply goes rushing on to the conclusion, which celebrates the strength and tragedy of the mother-daughter bond, and demonstrates in a very shocking manner the lengths that we will sometimes go to have our own family.

It's sad, really. The abortion narrative was placed there in juxtaposition to the main storyline, but barely any time is given to the implications of this character's decisions. And most readers, when passing over this story line, would probably never bat an eye, and simply take this small story as ordinary and unremarkable, and not realize the irony that a novel which focuses on the importance of family ties and on the bond between mother and child, should gloss over the killing of one's own child in such a casual manner.

This is how many people in North America view abortion today. They look at it from afar, and gloss over the details without much thought. We have to get them to take a closer look, to start to examine the implications of our pro-choice society.

At least this novel mentioned abortion. Too often it is treated as something you just don't talk about. And minds will never be changed if our culture treats abortion in such a manner.

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