Welcome to Love Means Second Chances

I chose the title for my pro-choice novel with care. “Love” has been noticeably absent in what the media call “the abortion wars.” But what is needed to end this war and to heal the corrosive division in our society is love – compassion, empathy, understanding, tolerance.

Abortion is a medical procedure that has been practiced in all cultures since the beginning of time. It is not going away. It cannot go away as long as women do not have control over their reproductive capacity. Even when it was outlawed in this country, beginning in the middle of the 19th century until 1973, women continued to risk their lives to have illegal procedures. And thousands died each year. At least that has ended. But the murder and harrassment of doctors, medical staff, and patients and the bombings of and “sidewalk counseling” outside of women’s health care clinics must be stopped.

So must the scorn, ridicule, and demonization of women who need to have this medical care. However, the abuse and denigration of women are only accelerating — witness the flood of laws limiting women’s access to this essential component of women’s health and reproductive choices. And whom do these laws affect the most? Poor women, disproportionately women of color, rural and young women who already have the fewest financial resources and life options. Placing burdens on those who have the least is hardly the sign of a caring, all-inclusive society.

Why are women being punished for seeking abortions? Where is the understanding or acknowledgment that a woman may not be able to be pregnant at a particular time — perhaps because of her own health or the needs of her children or when a pregnancy results from rape or incest? Those who revile abortion as a horrendous evil do not view it as a “second chance.” They only see it as the end of a potential life, not how having a child at that time may affect a woman’s life or her family’s life.

With this book, I challenge people to look at abortion through the lens of love that binds families together and of the need for second chances for women. Just as three generations of women in the Jennings family have to confront what their love for each other really means, love is needed to end this schism in our society and in so many families. No other country has such deep division on this issue. It’s time to confront the hatred and violence that divide us and support women’s needs with the same love that unites families. We will be a stronger, healthier, more united country when we do.

Susan Elizabeth Davis