Book reviews

Sandra Dallas’ The Last Midwife (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Mellifluous account of an aging Colorado midwife with abortionist tendencies.

This novel can help pro-lifers understand how support for abortion starts small.  With such a midwife as Gracey Brookens, it’s no wonder Colorado became one of the first states to deny the right to life in 1967.

Gracey is a typical Protestant Christian woman in 1880 Colorado, and readers may think she is simply a wonderful “near sixty” year old midwife (33).  Gracey believes, “Every baby […] was a mirror of God” (2).  She affirms further, “My work is about giving life, not taking it” (23).  Even in one of those “life of the mother” dilemmas, she refused to “crush the skull of the fetus” in a difficult childbirth (57).

The way Gracey is depicted thus far, you would think she would rank with other pro-life feminists of the nineteenth century, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  If she were alive today, she would be a banquet speaker at the annual convention of the National Right to life Committee.

The reader should not let Gracey’s constant references to God, the Bible, and religious matters fool him or her; after all, even that fraud Joe Biden calls himself “Catholic” as he violently opposes the first civil right, the right to life.  Gracey’s work as a midwife helping mothers deliver babies is admirable, but the flaws in her life-affirming character quickly accumulate.

While some of Gracey’s statements are ambiguous [for example, when she mentions “put a stop to childbearing” (25) does she mean natural family planning, artificial birth control, or abortion?], numerous other statements demonstrate her abortionist tendencies.

Gracey confesses that she sent mothers “to that doctor in Central City who advertises she specializes in diseases peculiar to women” (87).  She wished she had aborted a mother who was supposedly raped (88).  She expresses more regret regarding an incident of a pregnant woman who fell off a cliff; the mother had probably killed one of her twins, and Gracey refused to abort her (103).  Gracey “didn’t want to abort the babies, not with instruments anyway; it went against her nature” (140), the implication, of course, is that using abortifacients is acceptable for her, and herbal abortifacients are mentioned often in the novel.  Gracey thinks “it wasn’t right” not to abort because of a mother’s social condition (141).  She had given a mother herbal abortifacients, which, fortunately, did not kill the unborn child (166).  Finally, Gracey expresses remorse that she didn’t abort the child of the sheriff, a decision which supposedly resulted in the death of both mother and unborn child (175).

Kudos to Dallas for this admixture of midwifery and abortion.  After reading it, you will want to donate to Colorado Right to Life to ensure that the state can overcome the negative effects of its midwives who veered away from Gracey’s life-affirming philosophy.

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