At age nineteen, Kassi Underwood discovered she was pregnant. Broke, unwed, struggling with alcohol, and living a thousand miles away from home, she checked into an abortion clinic.
While her abortion sparked her “feminist awakening,” she also felt lost and lawless, drinking to oblivion and talking about her pregnancy with her parents, her friends, strangers-anyone.
Three years later, just when she had settled into a sober life at her dream job, the ex-boyfriend with whom she had become pregnant had a baby with someone else. She shattered. In the depths of a blinding depression, Kassi refused to believe that she would “never get over” her abortion. Inspired by rebellious women in history who used spiritual practices to attain emotional freedom, Kassi embarked on a journey of recovery after abortion-a road trip with pit stops at a Buddhist “water baby” ritual, where she learns a new way to think about lost pregnancies; a Roman Catholic retreat for abortion that turns out to be staffed with clinic picketers; a crash course in grief from a Planned Parenthood counselor; a night in a motel with a “Midwife for the Soul” who teaches her how to take up space; and a Jewish “wild woman” celebration led by a wise and zany rabbi.
Dazzling with warmth and leavened by humor, May Cause Love captures one woman’s journey of self-discovery that enraged her, changed her, and ultimately enlightened her.
Abortion. One of the most emotionally charged words of our time. There are basically two sides to the question. Either you are dead-set (no pun intended) against abortion, or you are equally as fervent about a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body.
Speaking for myself, I am stuck someplace in the middle, which some would argue is no position at all. Whatever. I did not consider abortion as an option for me, but I worked too dang hard to have my children, nearly dying during at least one pregnancy (none were without serious complications). On the other hand, I have a big problem with our government representatives (who are overwhelmingly male) proposing and creating laws that primarily affect one segment of the population ... in which they are not included.
Normally, I try not to take such a big detour during a book review. I feel readers come here to find out about the books, not to hear me up on my soapbox, but I felt strongly about making my personal position known, as it could (and probably does) affect my opinion of the book.
I do not envy the place in which Ms. Underwood found herself, and the choice with which she was faced. There's just not a lot of information available from someone who has had an abortion, about the process itself. The media that is out there is (and I am guessing here) mostly authored by those people who are against abortion and the arguments seem to be clustered around emotional, as opposed to physical, side effects.
Ms. Underwood is brave for sharing her story. Many people will judge her as much for telling her story as for having an abortion in the first place. Even for women of my age, we were taught that 'nice girls' wouldn't have gotten in that situation in the first place, or if they did, they certainly wouldn't advertise the fact.
Subject matter aside, Ms. Underwood knows how to tell a good story. I agree with her choice to use humor to tell the tale, which would alleviate the discomfort some readers would feel about the frankness with which she approached the subject of abortion. The lengths to which Kassi went, the number of therapies she experienced while in search of returning to (or is that continuing with) her normal life is impressive.
In May Cause Love, Kassi Underwood gives a voice of experience to an underserved group of people involved in the abortion discussion - the women whose physical and emotional health is directly affected when an abortion is performed.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Kassi Underwood grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. Her work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic online, The Rumpus, and Refinery29. She holds an MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University, where she taught on the faculty of the Undergraduate Writing Program. She has been a guest on MSNBC and HuffPost Live, and a speaker at colleges, comedy shows, and faith communities nationwide. Kassi lectures about personal transformation, social justice, and the spirituality of abortion. She is a student at Harvard Divinity School and cohost of the podcast Spiritually Blonde.
Find out more about Kassi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and HarperCollins, via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)