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What would have been a great story about a child conceived from rape being reunited with her birth mother is reduced to pro-abortion propaganda with a needless lesbian twist.
Despite this catastrophic flaw, while it is a propaganda piece more than a work of fiction, Marshall’s work can be used by the worldwide pro-life movement to support pro-life feminists in their fight against abortion and other life-destroying activities.
For example, Marshall’s propaganda effort claims that pregnancy resulting from “circumstances like rape or incest” are “often horrific”, yet the author is blissfully (or ironically) unaware that one of her two main characters, Nancy, is a grown woman who was once an unborn child conceived from the rape of her mother. Nancy escaped being killed for the crime of her father because abortion was illegal in Canada when she was born and because Nancy’s grandparents brought her mother to a home for unwed mothers negatively described as “just one big well-oiled machine” (84).
Another major irony in Marshall’s depiction of life-denying abortion propaganda is that Evelyn Taylor, an abortionist in the network of clandestine abortionists called the Janes, aborted her own grandchild. The mother who comes to her for the purpose of killing the unborn child is, unbeknownst to her, her own daughter Nancy. Evelyn will eventually realize—ten pages from the end of this verbose work—that she performed an abortion on her daughter, but never acknowledges the fact that she killed her own grandchild.
The 372 pages which constitute this apologia for abortion wrongs has several problems, four of which are significant. First, having two main characters as married lesbians who undergo artificial insemination is worthless as character attributes. In fact, having Angela and Tina in a committed relationship, albeit a distorted lesbian one, seeking to have children, although in a disordered manner, undercuts the author’s obvious leftist and woke philosophy. (Marshall twice uses the phrases “pregnant person” once and “women and pregnant people” twice in her “Author’s Note”, a clear sign that she adopts the woke distortion of science which asserts that biological males can become pregnant; see pages 379-81.) If anything, these lesbian characters support heterosexual normativity since their “marriage” leads to the happy event of children, which is the desired result of the sexual pleasure enjoyed by every heterosexual marriage.
A second serious problem of this abortion diatribe is that many characters are flat and function as allegories more than representations of real human beings. The nun who ran the home for unwed mothers where the future abortionist Evelyn gave her child up for adoption is depicted as pure evil, derisively called “The Watchdog” throughout. No human character can ever be pure evil as Satan, not even the American criminals Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or (to honor Marshall’s setting) the Canadian abortion zealot Justin Trudeau. Similarly, Canada’s abortion activist Henry Morgentaler is treated like a hero or a saint instead of the killer that he was (cf. 129-30).
A possible exception to this objection, however, is that Nancy may have round character traits when she realizes that post-abortion syndrome (PAS) contributed to a significant failure in her life: the secret of her adoption, her clandestine work for the Janes, and hiding her abortion from her husband are reasons for her eventual divorce. Pro-life sociologists have documented the effects of PAS on women for decades, and it’s good that Marshall depicts a woman suffering from that psychological disorder because of her pro-abortion activity.
A third problem of this sometimes tedious attempt to enshrine abortion concepts in the reader’s mind is that anti-life slogans interfere with the story, which is essentially the effort of a birth mother to find her daughter. For example, characters offer the usual claptrap that abortion is “just like any other surgery or treatment” (118) or ask the flaccid rhetorical question “Yet aren’t fertility clinics and abortion clinics just two sides of the same coin?” (119).
Worse, the characters perpetuate the philosophical error of thinking that mothers have no choice when faced with an untimely pregnancy besides abortion. For example, Nancy thinks that abortion is necessary: “But you have to do this, she tells herself” (183; italics in original). She thinks that having an abortion is “the keystone of her future” and that “abortion is the first step to setting herself back on track” (183).
This mantra of “choice” interrupts the narrative often. Regarding her working with the Janes, Nancy “revels in the knowledge that she’s helping other women gain power over their own lives” (232-3) and that abortionists are “all about choice” (286). Even the tired and dated slogan used by abortion businesses (like Planned Parenthood) is trotted out to prop up the choice element: “Every child a wanted child, every mother a willing mother” (305; italics in original).
What a terribly sad narrative of terribly sad women who think that harming themselves in abortion, killing the unborn babies whom they are carrying, and alienating the fathers of the unborn children are the only “choices” they have.
A final problem of Marshall’s narrative is that it completely ignores efforts by pro-life pregnancy support groups to meet the need that Canadian women had for assistance with their untimely pregnancies. Marshall’s chronologically-shifting work is set in Toronto from the 1970s onward, so it is either pure ignorance or abortion propaganda on the author’s part to omit the moral and material support that the pro-life organization Birthright, founded in the metropolitan Toronto area in 1968, began offering to women facing untimely pregnancies.
But then, pro-abortion writers must often disregard pro-life history since pro-life groups like Birthright assist the mother and the unborn child. All an abortionist can do is kill one and harm the other.
Despite these serious flaws, pro-life activists can use Marshall’s myopic view of Canadian abortion history to advance life-affirming principles.
For example, although the reader must consider the source (an author who has completely bought into the pro-abortion and woke nonsense), Marshall apparently does not realize that she uses the same reasoning to support abortion that slaveholders used to justify the subjugation of African human beings: property rights. An interesting passage from the “Author’s Note” makes this clear: “it [the unborn child] still resided inside my body. / My. Body” (-4; italics in original). Thus, the support for abortion among woke activists and anti-life feminists is extremely tenuous if they must rely on a legal concept (slavery) which is abhorrent to the world.
Moreover, the five questions of right-to-life literary theory can be applied to show the vapidity of Marshall’s work. For example, regarding the first question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work supports the perspective that human life is, in the philosophical sense, a good, some “thing” which is priceless is clear): it doesn’t. The only philosophical value that Marshall endorses repeatedly, ad nauseam, is the ambiguous “choice”—not the choice of free will or the ability to choose spumoni over chocolate ice cream, but an outdated legal opinion of a now defunct Roe v. Wade decision that allowed some mothers to kill unborn babies because those unique human beings were considered mere property of their mothers, like a purse or a car.
The second question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work respects the individual as a being with inherent rights, the paramount one being the right to life) is just as easily answered: nyet again! It is only the life of the woman who is superior to the life of the man or the life of the unborn child who is gendered either male or female. That pro-abortion persons cannot perceive this distortion of equality between the sexes is remarkable, given all their assertions of equality throughout the last half century. Thus, pro-life readers can point to Marshall’s polemic as evidence that it isn’t equality that pro-abortion feminists want for women, but dominance over men.
The third question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work respects heterosexual normativity and the integrity of the family) can be answered affirmatively, if only because of contrast. The desire of the lesbian “married” couple to have a successful artificial insemination of an unborn child reinforces the heterosexual normativity which their abuse of the marriage covenant implies. If the lesbians were genuinely opposed to heterosexual normativity, then they would not seek marriage (a heterosexual practice) and would not seek to have a child (the result of a heterosexual union).
The fourth question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work comports with the view that unborn, newborn, and mature human life has an inherent right to exist) is obvious: the characters conclude that abortion is not merely a choice, but a right that women have to kill.
Finally, regarding the fifth question of right-to-life literary theory (when they are faced with their mortality, do the characters come to a realization that there is a divine presence in the world which justifies a life-affirming perspective), the reader becomes painfully aware that these pro-abortion characters live carpe diem lives. Evelyn is explicit in her rejection of religious concepts; she “hasn’t believed in any kind of god for decades now, and she doesn’t subscribe to the concept of fate. Life is simply too cruel for those things to exist” (368). The other pro-abortion characters, however, are blissfully unaware of any other force in the universe besides their own impersonal adherence to the nebulous idea of “choice”; the ancient universals of beauty, goodness, and truth are absent as philosophical notions which could guide their irreligious, secular lives.
While Marshall’s work need not be purchased (after all, why would anybody spend his or her pro-life dollars on a literary work whose author funds leftist and woke groups?), pro-life readers who would like to examine it in detail can always obtain a copy from their local libraries, thus saving their money for donations to pregnancy support groups.
But then, I read it so that you don’t have to.