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Paula Rego Abortion Series triptech 1998


Abortion becomes part of people’s lives in a myriad of ways.

Here are three stories.


(The doctor who performed the abortion in the first story was Henry Morgentaler, a Montreal-based physician who was arrested several times before the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s anti-abortion law in 1988. Recently, a Montreal Park has been named after Henry.)

*       *     *


when he left for the summer

she was his lover 

when he returned in September

she was pregnant by another

he helped her decide

when most still considered abortion infanticide


long after he would wonder

what he would have done

if he had been the one


                         x   x   x


theirs was a casual bond

of each other they were fond

the attraction was mutual

common respect, nothing unusual


when they met again

unexpectedly, they had known not when

she confessed to having ended

the life of a child unintended


he did not know what to feel

rancour or relief?

anger or grief?

helplessness or irrelevance?

he did not know what was real 


                       x   x   x


already with a family

he met another lady

who unexpectedly

ended up expecting a baby


he persuaded her to terminate the pregnancy

for this was only shortly

after his wife in childbirth had lost a son

- her only one


almost thirty years later

she would have been his grown-up daughter


he thinks of her almost every day

wishing there had been another way

not accepting why 

whether she would live or die

was his to decide


knowing that she would have come to be

as wise and as much a beauty

as the woman in whose womb

briefly she would bloom

Click to read in Spanish

Click to read in German

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