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July 6, 2008

Nobody loves abortion

Yesterday I went to see How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Abortion at the Toronto Fringe Festival. I’ve mentioned before what I see as the reason for writers not exploring the theme of abortion in interesting ways: “Abortion makes for such boring narrative. Or at least everyone I’ve ever known to have had one has just gone on happily with the rest of her life.”

And so as a person who appreciates story, I thought the show seemed important, perhaps offering an alternative narrative to those ones all-too familiar: a) woman gets pregnant, decides on abortion, has a miscarriage and then is sad b) woman never considers abortion for aforementioned “boring” reason c) woman who gets abortion is rendered barren, and regrets her decision forevermore (and then goes to hell). Also to move pro-choice open debate beyond the rather limiting, “But what about victims of incest and rape?”

Writer Erin Fleck has done so, offering a show that is funny, poignant, surprising, and very well done. Didn’t do anything too easy. I was laughing hysterically at some parts, the ending left me on the verge of tears, and the story went in unexpected directions, absolutely shocking me at one point (with a twist, not with disgust, I must say), which I thought was sort of impressive.

Fleck writes on her blog (which also covers her difficulties promoting her show), “It frustrates me that the abortion question does seem to be the white elephant of debates…it just sort of sits there in the room and no one really wants to talk about it, for fear of angering a whole lot of people. And while everyone is so busy not talking about it…bills and laws are attempting to be passed to restrict it.”

Congratulations to her for being brave, getting people talking and even laughing. The show runs until next weekend.

2 thoughts on “Nobody loves abortion”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I just saw the play last night as well. I thought that all of the actors were very talented, but I was disappointed that abortion was taken so lightly and Christians mocked so openly. No, nobody loves abortion. There is a reason nobody loves abortion: it hurts women and destroys a human life. There is no bullshitting around that fact.

  2. Kerry says:

    The play mocked a certain kind of Christianity, not the religion itself. Esther the main character was a Christian and her faith was treated very sympathetically. And I don’t think it’s “bullshitting” to state that abortion is far more complicated than you give it credit for– every woman I know who’s had one acknowledges this complexity, but would probably state she was far more saved than hurt, and is profoundly grateful for having access to a safe and legal procedure. I realize that’s not a comfortable idea, but it’s an accurate reflection of the experience for so many to whom abortion is a profoundly personal issue and not just a matter of principle. And I also realize that I’ll never change your mind, but I hope you can exercise a bit of empathy and understanding to see that nothing is so straightforward as you suggest for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. Thanks for your comment.

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