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15 Abortions in 17 Years?

By Alli | Books | March 17, 2010 |

By Alli | Books | March 17, 2010 |

I found this book at the library and had to pick it up, it fascinated me that someone would publicly admit to having 15 abortions in 17 years and I wondered how they could possibly sway me to empathize with them.

Impossible Motherhood by Irene Vilar is a biography of sorts, but mainly deals with her “addiction” to abortions. Personally I have not been through that experience myself, but at a certain age I often found myself often being worried about being pregnant and what I would do should that happen. I am pro-choice and I consider myself to be fairly open minded so I tried to understand why someone would undergo this again and again.

It is rather disturbing to think that someone could continually become pregnant as a means of exercising control over their life and body. More disturbing is that she did view the fetuses as possible children, even going as far as putting clothing on layaway for them. She has reasons aplenty for her behavior, but in my opinion they’re really not good enough.

Having said all of this, Vilar is a very talented writer and the book was a smooth read. The other parts of her life are easier for me to empathize with: Her mother committed suicide when Vilar was 8 years old, she left home at a young age as well and again left for college at 15 years old only to be preyed upon by an older professor who she later married and who she allowed to control many aspects of her life.

It is easy to sit from afar and judge someone as we have not lived their life. However, it is difficult not to be appalled by her experiences. She is now a mother and admits in the book that she considered a late term abortion for her first daughter, even going as far as describing photos that she has hanging up and that the ultrasound was taken at a point where she could have aborted her daughter. Imagine the grown up daughter someday reading this.

I think the book is a form of therapy for Vilar, and a cautionary tale for women finding themselves in a similar situation. I came out of it with respect for Vilar as a writer, but an extreme contempt for her as a person. She seems to be to be selfish to the extreme. She describes, late in the book, caring for her dying dog. She seems to think that caring for this animal at the end of her life is some kind of redemption. But seeing as I have worked as a veterinary assistant, I know that all she did was cause extreme suffering and pain to her animal, and has again been extremely selfish and cannot see past her own needs. Even after her daughter is born, she is more concerned with the separation anxiety than being pleased with the growth and development of her child.

Like it or hate it, this book did inspire a lot of emotion in me. Vilar is a powerful writer and I would enjoy reading more of her writing. I didn’t expect to be on her side and that is how I felt after reading it. I have never read a book where I hated the protagonist as much as I did here, biography or not. I would recommend reading it, but only if you can handle feeling quite a bit of emotion, as it will be sure to provoke a lot.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Alli’s reviews, check out her blog.