Fifteen Abortions Later, Her Memoir Is Born

LONDON - MAY 20: A lady bears her stomach with...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Can you imagine terminating, or accepting someone who did, 15 healthy pregnancies? Irene Vilar made that choice beginning as a student at Syracuse University while dating a much older professor, and her decisions are the basis for her new, and highly controversial memoir. She is now the mother of two young children.

The Washington Post writes:

That Irene Vilar embraces the role of motherhood is a grand incongruity, a mind-blower. She has just published a precariously nuanced, intellectually ambitious and unnervingly frank memoir titled “Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict.” In the book, Vilar writes about a “shameful” period in her life — before she became a mother — when she says she underwent 15 abortions in 15 years. What she now sees as her “nightmare” began with a teenage affair with a Syracuse University professor who was 34 years her senior.

The almost unimaginable claim — vetted by her publisher’s attorneys, who say they have been able to confirm all but two procedures done in now-defunct clinics — places Vilar at the outer extreme of the phenomenon of multiple abortions. It has also made her a sudden target of blogospheric vitriol and disapproval.

I haven’t yet read the book and am not sure I will. Not because I disapprove of her choice — it was legally hers to make, and ethically and morally hers to live with — but because the decision to end any pregnancy is deeply personal. There’s no doubt in my mind that Vilar chose to end the lives of 15 potential children. As much as her choice(s) may horrify many, if abortion is legal and a woman has the right to choose — the meaning of pro-choice — it leaves her free to make choices that many of us would abhor.

The First Amendment and the skills and passion of the ACLU are sacred ground for many. If the essential principle is freedom, what are its limits?

2 thoughts on “Fifteen Abortions Later, Her Memoir Is Born

  1. Fruzsina Eordogh

    I think a doctor should be able to make that call if a woman comes in for her 8th, 9th, 10th abortion. There is obviously something psychologically wrong with her and that doctor should be able to deny her an abortion and/or refer her to a therapist.

    She made it perfectly clear that the only way she felt happy, and felt like she had control over her life, was when she got pregnant and then killed the fetus. Why wasn’t her psychological problem apparent to the doctors? Did she lie to them, go to a new one every year?

    A majority of European countries require a counseling session before the abortion, and many won’t let you have another abortion until after 6 months unless in the case of rape.

    If healthcare was nationalized, you wouldn’t see this kind of behavior. This woman would have been caught and locked away (in a mental hospital) well before her 10th abortion.

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    Thanks for your thoughts on this…Then the question is, why at 8? or 9th? Some might say, the 3rd or 4th…

    The question of doctor-shopping is a good one and I agree that a smart physician paying attention could have, and perhaps should have, stopped this behavior. Canada, when I lived there (not sure of the rules now) also required counseling before an abortion, so a woman can’t just keep getting abortions without oversight of her decisions.

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