in a youth novel about adoption, abortion doesn't even exist

I am reading a YA novel about adopted people connecting with their biological siblings and parents. This is a topic I have written about and have an interest in, and it's supposed to be a very good book: Far From the Tree, by Robin Benway.

On page 3, the teenage protagonist knows she cannot raise a child, so she immediately begins the adoption process, interviewing prospective parents during her pregnancy. Fine. The word abortion is never used. Not fine.

There is no "She knew she would never have an abortion, so she...", no "It was too late to have an abortion, and anyway she doubted she would do that...", no "She was from a religious family, so abortion was out of the question." Not one word. As if the option does not exist. As if abortion itself does not exist. How realistic is that? Not at all?

Such is the state of YA in the United States. Does the author, or perhaps the publisher, think if the word abortion appears once in a 300-page book, the book will be the target of boycotts? Even in a book where the girl doesn't terminate the pregnancy? 

In case I was missing something, I searched the e-book for the word abortion. Not found.

I honestly don't know if I can get past this to read the book. My head is exploding.

I've written about this before, and at the moment I don't have time or inclination to add context. So: wmtc:
on tv, pregnancy is fine and dandy, but abortion is the choice that cannot be named (good comment discussion here)

murdoch mysteries, abortion on tv, and maybe an anti-war reference, too

Book Riot: Abortion in YA Lit: A Reading List

Cosmopolitan: Why I Included Abortion in My YA Novel -- "I just wanted to be one of the voices out there that shows that this is actually quite normal."

Gurl: 7 Awful Teen Pregnancy Plots in TV shows


James Redekop said...

Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books were full of magic and gryphons and gay mages and, while I don't think they used the word "abortion", I'm pretty sure they mentioned the subject (with a matter-of-fact "if you need it, here's what to do" approach). Apparently the magic world of Valdemar is more realistic than Far From the Tree.

laura k said...


impudent strumpet said...

This has me thinking about the years that elapsed between my learning that unwanted pregnancy could happen and learning that pregnancies can be terminated, and then the further years that elapsed between being exposed to the idea of causing a miscarriage by self-induced trauma vs. being exposed to the idea that there's an actual medical procedure you can go to the doctor for.

I'm sure kids today are more worldly, but my younger self would have been saved a lot of stress just by being exposed to the idea that something can be done.

(And I say this as someone who has never had a pregnancy scare, and who wasn't even interested in sex for the vast majority of the time I was stressing about this)

laura k said...

But you're not so old, and I believe abortion was legal and available in Canada during the time you're writing about. So I don't know how much more worldly young pepole are now. Lots of young women may not know their options. You really illustrate why this pissed me off so much. One reason, anyway.

impudent strumpet said...

The difference between me and today's young people is I didn't have internet access until I was 16 (whereas I became aware that unwanted pregnancy was a possibility at the age of 10.)

Of course, you have to know that there might be something that can be done to google the idea of what to do about it, so I don't know how it would have played out with earlier internet access.