In the early 1990's in America, anti-abortion sentiments led to increasing violence toward clinics and the caregivers who bravely defied public opposition. In this novel, three people with their own compelling backgrounds are drawn into the struggle.
Phil, an idealistic young doctor committed to women's reproductive choice, thinks he's ready for anything when he opens his clinic in eastern New York State.
Jenna, another doctor in their residency, with an unwanted pregnancy in her own family, finds her commitment to choice merged with an unspoken love.
Adele struggles to support Phil's choice of work but with growing resentment longs for calm and safety around the birth of her own child.
In the midst of escalating threats and protests, the world of the clinic is upended when a young patient's problem and an eager staff member's empathy lead inexorably to a startling act of violence. As Phil, Jenna and Adele confront the tragedy, the grief and despair left in its wake threaten both the clinic and their relationships. Each finds personal choices to make, driven by desire, loyalty, and loss---until another act of violence changes the direction of each life.
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Excerpts from Choice
Jenna: “That night we all met outside the ER and rode to the meeting together in Phil’s car, but as we stepped into the building I stopped to use one of the phones. There’d been a call from Lucy that afternoon...What now? My teenage sister was always having a crisis…Phil hung back with me as I stood listening to the ring. Then the phone was picked up and I heard Lucy crying so hard I could barely understand her…’I’ll be right there,’ I said into the phone.
‘I thought you were off,’ Phil said. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘It’s my sister. I’ve got to go.’
Phil: “Only yesterday…I had wondered suddenly: What if I’ve been wrong? What if I were not, after all, on the side of the angels? It was a thought to chill the soul, and I refused to linger on it. I would still stand firmly, without question, on the side of a woman’s choice…I believed it was right to bear only children who could be fully welcomed and cherished.”
Adele: “I was ashamed to find myself so ordinary. Phil was brave, and I admired his courage, the way he took it for granted that you should do in your life what you think is right…Could you even call an opinion a conviction if you weren’t willing to live by it? But I was terrified, in a quiet, secret way that I wanted to keep hidden.”
Lauren: “… She was sleeping, or had been, when she felt someone smoothing her hair, then fingers stroking her face. At first she thought she was dreaming of her mother; she was a child being comforted. Then she felt the gentle touch drifting down her neck, across her shoulder, down her arm. It was like someone smoothing cloth.”
Jenna: “When the telephone rang I was lying awake in the dark, on the narrow day bed in the sun room of my little house, the room that seemed almost to hang out over the river. I had been up, pacing, turning everything over and over in my mind, and then I lay down on the couch to try to sleep, breathing in the warm late-summer air with its fresh, slightly fishy scent. I must have been just dropping off when the telephone sounded its shrill alarm. Before I even sat up, got to my feet, and went to the phone, I began to tremble uncontrollably. Before I even heard Phil’s voice.”