Questions, Abortion, And The Awakening Supernatural Thriller Series

One of the first book bloggers who reviewed The Awakening said she couldn’t tell what my views as the author were on abortion, and she really liked that.

The book begins with an unexpected and supernatural pregnancy. It also takes place in the modern day. At least at the moment, abortion is a legal option the protagonist would have.

Because of that, I knew I needed to think about the topic of abortion.

It’s Complicated

The situation is particularly complicated for Tara, the main character.

She has no reason to believe that she’s pregnant, as she’s never engaged in sexual intercourse. So it takes her some time to go to a college campus health center when she misses periods. When they tell her she’s pregnant, she assumes there was a mistake, which is what anyone would think in her circumstances.

The Awakening begins when Tara’s doctor tells her the second pregnancy test also is positive.

The two engage in a frank discussion of how pregnancy could possibly have happened. (In retrospect, the discussion was probably a little too frank. I’m sure it got me ruled out of certain advertising sites early on in the book’s life.)

The doctor has known Tara a long time and believes that she hasn’t engaged in activities that could lead to pregnancy. She does follow-up tests to be sure nothing else is wrong.

Once tests confirm the pregnancy the doctor raises the question of abortion.

She tells Tara she’ll need to make a decision quickly. The state where she lives, Missouri, puts a definite timeframe on when a woman can terminate a pregnancy. That deadline is quickly approaching.

This strikes Tara as extremely unfair. She had no reason to think she was pregnant and has just found out about it. It’s hard for her to think this through so quickly.

The Characters’ Views On Abortion

Minor spoiler below:




Tara opts to continue her pregnancy. (If she hadn’t, it would have made for a very short book.)

Down the road (literally and figuratively) Tara talks with Cyril, an aspiring deacon from a religious Order that believes Tara’s child will have significance for the world as a messiah.

Cyril idealizes Tara. He says he’s so impressed that she never even considered abortion. To him, that adds to her perfection, as he sees abortion as wrong. He assumes Tara feels the same because her family, and her dad in particular, are very Catholic.

Tara says of course she considered it. It would be a way to put her life back to what she feels it should be. She abstained from sex because she understood how much responsibility and work were involved in parenting and she wanted to wait until she finished college and began medical school before taking any chances on becoming pregnant.

I felt no matter what her views on abortion overall might be, she wouldn’t be human if it didn’t cross her mind that terminating the pregnancy would return her to “normal” life.

Specific Reasons

Unique circumstances also surround Tara’s decision to have her baby.

Her youngest sister is struggling with cancer and may well have a very short life. It would be hard for Tara not to see her decision about continuing her pregnancy or not in connection with her little sister’s possible death.

Also, Tara has a wonderful support system.

It’s true that many of her friends and family fail her when she tells them about her pregnancy. But their reactions are about her being unable to explain how she became pregnant and their fears that she is either not being up front with them or is struggling with mental illness.

Had her pregnancy been a typical one, she would have had a lot of emotional support and as much financial help as her parents and boyfriend were able to offer. Her boyfriend and she probably would have gotten married, just a little bit earlier than planned. (Whether that would have been a good thing is another question.)

Why The Open Questions

That no one other than Cyril expresses a strong view on whether abortion is moral in Tara’s circumstances, or any circumstances, was what, for me, fit the story. The plot is about Tara’s unique experience and not about political issues.

It also reflects my belief that well-intentioned people with strong beliefs can differ for understandable reasons, whether or not I agree with them.

As I learned when researching a short nonfiction book about whether Catholic views about women influenced a U.S. Supreme Court decision on birth control (see How the Virgin Mary Influenced The United States Supreme Court: Catholics, Contraceptives, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.) they also differ on how they define the terms of the debate.

One reason the abortion debate is so complex is that medicine has a specific definition of abortion, and the Vatican uses a different one.

This difference means that the same statement by two different people can mean two entirely different things. Listeners or other people who join the debate might or might not know that.

What I strove for throughout the entire Awakening Series was to avoid black-and-white answers.

Most characters, including those who oppose Tara, believe they are doing what’s best for humanity.

No one, including Tara, gets an easy answer to “What’s the right thing to do in this situation?”

In the end, I hope this choice made for a more compelling story.

That’s all for today. Stop by next Wednesday when I’ll talk about why Cyril was my favorite character (after Tara) in The Awakening.