“I want to publish my novel at the time when it will do the most good,” I repeated like a mantra over the many years it took me to write it. That’s probably why I published it at this time last year. Because the novel is needed more than ever to show, through the intimate lens of family life, what being able to have an abortion means to a young woman who becomes pregnant when the contraceptive she uses fails. And, let’s face facts, all forms of birth control fail at one time or another. Nothing is fail-safe — except abstinence. Which is not an option for people with a healthy sex drive.
I was delighted when Terri O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said July 1 at its national conference that NOW has to go on the offensive on issues as well as being on the defensive. Because that’s exactly what’s needed now. We must assert and affirm women’s right to abortion — which means coming out publicly in support of it.
Just like Darcy Burner did at the Netroots Nation conference on June 15. During her keynote speech where she dissected the “War on Women,” Burner, who is running for Congress in Washington State, asked all the women in the audience who’d had abortions to stand up. A number of women rose. Then she asked all those who support women’s right to abortion to stand with them. And the entire audience rose with thunderous applause. Wow! What a dramatic way to affirm a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Now is the time for women who’ve had abortions — and their male partners, I hasten to add — to lead the charge in its defense. I’m certainly willing to talk about why I had an abortion in 1985. Very simply, my partner at the time didn’t want to be a parent again, and I didn’t want to be a single mother. I wanted to write a pro-choice novel, and I knew I couldn’t do that and raise a child. I had no illusions that I could be Superwoman. Besides, I’d had a difficult time with my mother, who was the primary parent in our family, and I was afraid I was too much like her to be the kind of tender, loving mother I would want to be.
I will never forget the relief I felt walking out of the clinic knowing I was no longer carrying the lifelong responsibility that comes with a pregnancy. That relief, so profoundly freeing, was quite exhilarating, like the cold wind on my face that March afternoon. I was free to lead my life my way. Having an abortion made me appreciate life more, not less. All life, but especially my life — and the lives of all my sisters. Now I really had to write that novel!
Make no mistake: Having an abortion deepened my understanding of the issue and helped me write this novel. I am grateful for that real-life experience. But would I have chosen to have abortion if I hadn’t had to? Of course not.
“Respect women.” That was the motto of Dr. George Tiller, the courageous abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, who was viciously murdered in church on May 31, 2009, by an anti-abortion sociopath. Respecting women is what’s missing in the current political climate. Instead, self-righteous, mostly male legislators treat women like an alien species, incapable of making ethical, moral decisions about our lives. I have to commend the women legislators (whose names I unfortunately can’t remember at this moment) who stood up in several states over the past year and talked openly about why they had elected to have second-trimester abortions — because they had learned that medical abnormalities meant their wanted pregnancies would not lead to healthy children.
Love Means Second Chances unequivocally asserts women’s right to abortion. That’s clear from the book title: Love is essential in all human interactions. Abortion is the ultimate second chance.