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Abortion in Romance…

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Posted in: Abortions in romance

Jane currently has a great poll up over at DA, asking the question, Is abortion acceptable for a heroine in romance?

It’s interesting to note that so far, 72% have said yes, and 28% have said no.

I’m wondering if the people who have said no, are pro-lifers, or whether they just simply don’t believe that there’s any place in romance for heroines who have had abortions?

Of course I think it’s all about how it’s handled in the book, but then again, I’m pro-choice, so I guess that colours my views somewhat.

As long as I’m not being preached at, I can handle most controversial topics that come up in romance.


  • I haven’t voted yet as the poll is too black and white. I am pro-choice and I would have no problem with a heroine having had an abortion in the past. However, a heroine having an abortion in the course of the story, then reuniting with the hero, is not my idea of a romantic storyline. It could work in general fiction or another genre, but not romance.

    I have the same attitude to adultery. I’m more willing to accept it in another genre but it is a major no-no for me in a romance. Totally spoils the illusion of the hero and heroine having a perfect HEA.


  • […] See the original post here: Abortion in Romance… […]

  • Kat
    July 21
    12:24 pm

    I suspect the results are a bit skewed because people got the post title and the poll question mixed up.


  • Lori
    July 21
    1:15 pm

    I’m completely pro-choice but find my answer isn’t the same as my personal views. Because my romance reading is pure fantasy, I’d be leery of it. Depending on the author and circumstances though, it might not even register a blip on the radar if the reasons were realistic.


  • @Lori

    I’m completely pro-choice but find my answer isn’t the same as my personal views.

    Yes! That’s absolutely it. In real life, I’m 100% supportive of each woman deciding for herself. In romance, I’m looking for an escapist fantasy. I think it would depend very much on how (and when) it was handled in the context of the story.


  • M E 2
    July 21
    1:57 pm

    I am with Lori and Sarah T. I am wholly pro-choice. However, reading about a heroine who has an abortion in the middle of a romance novel, not a fan of, whatsoever.

    Let me also say that if the abortion in the middle of a romance novel is part of a flashback sequence, that is not the same thing, IMO.


  • sallahdog
    July 21
    2:43 pm

    An abortion, no matter what your feelings on the legality of it (pro life for myself, but I believe in pro choice for the law) really isn’t romantic… I have never had a friend who had an abortion who was happy about it, so in a romance (maybe if it was mentioned as something that happened in the past it would be ok) wouldn’t work for me…


  • I voted yes. I’m not sure I’d like it as a common theme, because it’s such a serious topic, but it is a legitimate experience that a woman might have and which might shape her.


  • Randi
    July 21
    3:45 pm

    I’m with MichelleR-it is a legitimate experience, and contrary to the WashPost, romances actually deal with lots of heavy issues.

    I voted yes, but like many others, it totally depends on how it’s written. I wouldn’t go so far as to specifiy that the heroine couldn’t have one during the story (rather than before the story starts), and I don’t know exactly how I would feel about it being The Deep Dark Sekret…but it really comes down to characterization, plotting, and writing.


  • I have never had a friend who was raped, tortured, kidnapped, physically abused, infertile, shipwrecked, widowed, jilted at the altar, bankrupt, fired, shunned by her community, or turned into a vamp and been happy about it, but I have read and enjoyed romances in which the heroines experience these things.

    Moreover, although abortion can be a difficult decision, many women feel overwhelming relief and other positive emotions after abortion, so for them it is not really even comparable to the negative experiences listed above.

    I do think there are special hurdles when it comes to aborting a fetus conceived from a sexual encounter with the hero of the novel, but with so many romances featuring sexually experienced women these days, and knowing 1 in 3 women in developed countries will obtain an abortion in their lifetime, I have to wonder what else is going on when so few heroines have unintended pregnancies or make the choice to abort when they do.


  • I am pro-choice. I agree – abortion has to be handled properly in a book otherwise it’s just tacky and readers will not want to get involved with the heroine’s decisions.


  • Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that baby I made the very painful and still guilt-filled decision to abort. No, regardless of my feelings on the matter (and I am pro-life though it is the woman’s choice to make) I don’t want that in my romances. They’re fantasies, yes, and as such, I don’t want to read the too real life painful things I’ve faced.

    I started answering this by saying that it depends on how it’s handled and the circumstances it’s done under. Funny how my fingers just typed what they wanted to regardless of what I was originally thinking…


  • I have read a few books were the heroine has had an abortion–I stopped reading. I will continue to DNF any book if it ever mentions that the heroine has had an abortion.


  • MB (Leah)
    July 21
    8:41 pm

    I’m not against it in romance if it’s written well and pertinent to a story line. I think it’s an issue that can be used to develop conflict within the heroine and between the hero and heroine. Also good as a character growth device.

    I’d certainly hate to read it though as point of vilification of a woman in any way. That would piss me right off.

    Frankly, I think I get more pissed off about TSTL heroines having unprotected sex (in contemps) with nary a thought to the consequences, than having an abortion, in romance.

    Abortion is something that one has to really think about and consider before having it as you just can’t go out and immediately have one. While jumping into bed with someone and having unprotected sex is so easy and doesn’t require any thought.


  • Marianne McA
    July 21
    9:46 pm

    I know I voted yes because I’m pro-choice, and to vote ‘no’ seemed to imply that people who have had abortions are not heroine material.


  • Nonny
    July 21
    11:30 pm

    I think the wording of the poll is difficult. It doesn’t make it clear whether it’s abortion across the board, as part of the heroine’s backstory, or during the actual story.

    I think the topic is one of those that really depends a lot on the situation. Even pro-choice people might have trouble reading a story where the heroine aborts the hero’s child on-screen.

    Speaking as a childfree person, I have gotten a lot of crap from people when I’ve said I would abort if I got pregnant — especially since I’m married. “But how can you kill the child of the person you love?” is the overwhelming argument, even from people that claim to be pro-choice. If you’re in love, you must want a baby, right? Or, even if you don’t, it’ll be different when it’s your own. *mutter*

    Considering that, I can see the difficulty of an abortion during the course of the story.

    Certainly, there are people that it would be a dealbreaker for in any form, but I think less people would be bothered by it as part of the heroine’s backstory than if it happened on-screen.


  • Trace
    July 22
    12:12 am

    I don’t want to read about abortion. Much as I don’t want to read about adultery, or cruelty towards animals or children.
    Not in my romance books.


  • Lorraine
    July 22
    12:14 am

    It’s never bothered me in the historicals I’ve read when the village healer tells the heroine that herbs are available to abort babies. I can’t recall any heroine using said herbs, but I believe in pro choice unequivocally. In fact, in an historical setting it’s very empowering for a woman to choose…it’s virtually the only power one had.

    The only way it would bother me in a contemporary would be if the heroine did it behind the hero’s back and made the choice because of a lack of faith in him, (I like romances where the h/h have the wisdom to know their significant other is a good and decent person).


  • […] a Heroine in a Romance? Responding to the number of poll participants who voted “No”, Karen Scott wonders if they are pro-lifers or simply don’t consider abortion appropriate in a romance […]

  • Jilly Isenberry
    July 25
    9:37 pm

    The 1980s historical romance novel Kathryn in the Court of Six Queens had a heroine who had an abortion during the story, via herbs. She actually aborted the hero’s baby too (because of complicated political srs business issues, any child born between the hero and heroine would have been a death warrant for everyone involved).

    I actually didn’t think anything of it until I read this topic. It was well written, and the heroine was sad, but also very practical about it, very “this is what has to be done, or we all die, so let’s do this.”

    It was fine for me, and I’m pro-choice.


  • […] feel exactly the same way as I did in 2009, if it’s handled carefully, then yes, why […]

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