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To Abort, or Not to Abort

Danny wanted Cindy to get an abortion.

He’d been thinking it over for days, ever since she’d told him she was pregnant. The issue of abortion had never been of particular interest to Danny. Sure, he’d followed the national debate all his adult life, but at a distance, and with split thinking. Part of him was bothered by the thought of nullifying a developing life in a woman’s uterus. But a larger part of him decided that (a) whether to have an abortion was really the business of the woman and her doctor, not of politicians, and (b) the people who were so ardently anti-abortion seemed to be a horror show of evangelical Christians and rightwing Tea Party types, neither of which Danny trusted, or wished to see further empowered. So, on balance, he was pro-abortion.

He raised the topic with Cindy as gingerly as he possibly could. It was a Sunday morning. They were having brunch at a waterfront restaurant in San Leandro. Afterwards, they strolled along the Bay Trail that skirted the marinas and lagoons. It was a sunny, windy day. The waters of San Francisco Bay gleamed and glistened; foamy whitecaps flecked the wavy crests. Far to the northwest loomed the skyscrapers of the City, with Salesforce Tower soaring above the rest.

They sat on a park bench. “I have something on my mind,” Danny began.

“I know. I can hear you thinking.”

“This baby. Are you sure you’re ready for it? I mean, a baby changes everything. You’re only 24. I’m only 28. A baby would really tie us down. We can always have one in a few years.”

Cindy looked at him in earnest. “What are you trying to say?”

“Just that we can terminate this pregnancy. We don’t have to go through with it unless we’re absolutely sure.”

“’Terminate this pregnancy’”? Cindy repeated. “You mean, kill the baby?”

“Well, that’s not the way I’d put it.”

“How would you put it, Daniel?” Whenever Cindy was pissed, she called him “Daniel.”

“Look, I admit I’m not entirely comfortable with abortion. But it is legal and safe. You’d be in and out of the clinic in a couple of hours. I looked it up on Planned Parenthood’s website. The procedure itself only takes about ten minutes. You stay in the recovery room for an hour. Then you’re discharged.”

“You make it sound like an oil change.”

“I don’t mean to make light of it, Cin. But it’s not the worst thing in the world.”

Cindy looked over the Bay, at the distant city. She heard the gulls cawing, the revving of the motor of a speedboat, the wind rippling through the trees. Then she said, quietly and firmly, “I am not having an abortion. I want this baby.”

That seemed to be the end of it. The next day, after work, Danny met up with Nick at Playa. They hadn’t seen each other in a while and were looking forward to catching up. Danny told Nick about the Castro Valley cottage. Nick told Danny about the situation with Flambé. She was still living with him, technically, but she was seeing the new councilmember, Devon Camber, and it was increasingly clear that she was in love with him.

“That sucks,” Danny observed. “How do you feel about it?”

“I don’t know. I like Flambé. She’s been good for me. But I never expected it to be like a marriage, a ‘for better or for worse’ kind of thing. If she wants to move on, I’m cool. How’s Cindy?”

Danny explained.

“Wow. She’s pregnant?”

“Yeah. We should have had protection, but that’s water under the bridge. The point is, she wants the baby, and I don’t. I can’t force her to get an abortion. So we’re kind of at an impasse.”

“That sucks.”

“Indeed.” The two friends lapsed into silence. Then Nick suggested that maybe Danny would like being a father. “I mean, kids can be great.”

Danny looked at Nick and grinned ironically. “What would you know about having kids?”

 “Don’t forget I had three younger siblings.”

“Which makes you an expert at parenting, I’m sure.”

“Hey, don’t take it out on me. I’m just trying to help.”

“Well,” Danny asked, “what would you do?”

Nick considered. “I don’t know. Like you said, you can’t force her to get an abortion. So I guess you’re stuck.”

“Which is exactly what I said.”

“Do you really want to stay with her?”

“I’m not going to walk away from the baby, if that’s what you’re driving at. If she has it, then I’m going to be a good father.”

“Daddy!” Nick laughed, and then made baby-crying noises. “Wah! Wah!”

Danny socked his friend on the bicep. “Hey, let’s go over to Bay Grape and see what they’re tasting.”

“That,” announced Nick, “is the best idea I’ve heard all day!”

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