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Aqdas Lilani

Professor King

English 4

11 November 2018

An Escape from Non-Fiction

In an imperfect world, we rely on fiction to understand the dynamics of real-world

problems. Authors give their characters the freedom to develop their own beliefs, provide a

setting for their problems, and let readers experience the issues that tag along with those

problems. These characters allow readers to experience a plethora of emotions that cannot be

deciphered from nonfiction. Nonfiction pieces such as, Micaiah Bilger, "School Board Allows

Planned Parenthood Partners to Open Clinic at Local High School" allow for readers to gain

perspective on the facts regarding abortion options for high schoolers. Fiction pieces such as,

Amy Hempel’s "Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep" gives readers access to a young girl who has

suffered the traumatic ties of an abortion. The emotional background of fiction helps the reader

understand the complexities associated with real issues.

The purpose behind non-fiction pieces is to provide the facts; however, it can be difficult

for readers to authenticate the information as it could be from a biased source. Although non-

fiction pieces allow us to understand the facts, the lack of pathos does not push the severity of

the issue. Micaiah Bilger’s article, "School Board Allows Planned Parenthood Partners to Open

Clinic at Local High School" provides readers with the implications of Planned Parenthood on

high school campuses; Bilger, argues that Planned Parenthood should not be a resource outlet in

high schools. Planned Parenthood is a huge corporation which promotes pro-choice and provides

contraceptives to individuals in need. A high school in Pennsylvania approved of a reproductive


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center operated through Planned Parenthood to be open up on their campus. The author believes

that Planned Parenthood is not an appropriate source for vulnerable teens because of the

messages the brand releases. In 2014 a video series from Planned Parenthood was uncovered

which encourages "young teens to participate in sado-masochistic sexual activities, including

gagging, whipping, asphyxiation, shopping at sex stores and viewing pornography" ("School

Board Allows Planned Parenthood Partners to Open Clinic at Local High School"). Many

parents would not approve of these activities. The author also mentions that Planned Parenthood

has a booklet which explains to young people that it is their "human right" to not tell their partner

that they are HIV positive. Many people would agree with the author that it is unethical to hide

this information from their sexual partners. The author shared information about a planned

parenthood program at a middle school which included instructions on how to perform oral and

anal intercourse in their health curriculum. Many parents would not want their middle school

child to learn how to perform these acts.

Although these facts are real, the readers cannot understand the actual repercussions of

Planned Parenthood because it is just information; the background story is not there. The purpose

of non-fiction is to deliver the facts, but because of the bias influences of the author, the readers

cannot understand the reasoning behind circumstances. Could the high school in Pennsylvania

have a growing percentage of unplanned pregnancies or STD rates? That is the unfortunate

downfall when it comes to non-fiction writing; the readers do not get to experience the emotions

attached to the characters. This issue is resolved when it is incorporated into fiction pieces.

Fiction gives readers access to the details and experiences of characters that are suffering

from real issues. In Amy Hempel's story "Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep,", readers are given

exposure to a young girl who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from her
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abortion; this condition is also referred to as post-abortion trauma syndrome, and a major study

found, “that at a minimum 19% of post-abortion women suffer from a diagnosable post-

traumatic stress disorder” (Barnard 1). The narrator could not even say the word “abortion”;

rather, she referred to is as a procedure; her inability to use the word abortion provides a

background to the negative stigmas associated with abortion. Perhaps saying abortion to these

characters makes them think they killed a baby, and by saying it is a procedure normalizes it. A

procedure makes it seem like there is a sickness and surgery will get rid of the disease. The

narrator had a negative perspective on the procedure, but there is a sense of regret which

coexists, and readers get to experience that. She regrets having sex, she regrets having the

procedure, and now she is suffering from this traumatic emotional tension in her life. Hempel

includes the story of a little girl, "the little girl had found a frog in the yard. The frog appeared to

be dead, so her parents let her prepare a burial site -- a little hole surrounded by pebbles.

However, at the moment of the lowering, the frog, which had only been stunned, kicked its legs

and came to” (Hempel 386). The little girl is probably the narrator, and the frog was the unborn

baby. She thinks after the procedure “it” is dead, and just when she is ready to bury away that

memory, she realizes her guilt is alive inside of her. One of the themes of this story is guilt

because it eats her away. Even when Dale Anne has the baby, she cannot be around her or the

newborn baby, and when she does return to her home a year later, she still doesn't feel

comfortable. The story of the frog reveals what's unsaid, and hints at what the reader should be

looking for when they are reading between the lines. The beauty of fiction allows the reader to

look between the lines and analyze the real situation.

The lack of real problems being mentioned in fiction is disturbing. Jessica Tripler

mentions in her essay, “Why We Need More Abortion Stories in Our Fiction”, "If fiction
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stimulates empathy, maybe more and varied portrayals could facilitate dialogue around a topic

that can be polarizing. Alternatively, shed light on the many values 'pro-life,' and 'pro-choice'

readers share." The need for topics such as abortion in fiction is necessary because it allows the

reader to dive deeper into the experiences of the character that is suffering. Mentioning abortion

in fiction might dismiss a particular population of readers, but the need to include topics like

abortion is necessary and take precedence over a simple dismissal of groups. Instead, by

including the emotional context of abortion could be educational for some of these individuals.

As mentioned in the essay, non-fiction pieces and the media paint abortion to have a negative

connotation but rather is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. The post-

abortion depression and the emotions experienced by the woman are worth exploring, and these

feelings could accurately be represented in fiction pieces (“Why We Need More Abortion Stories

in Our Fiction”). Some women are even confident in their decisions to terminate, and those

backgrounds also deserve to be voiced. The purpose of fiction is not to provide a solution to a

real-world issue but to perhaps provide more context into why women will choose abortion and

the aftermath related to their experience.

The details included in fiction cannot be found in non-fiction. Different characters can

have different beliefs as contrasts to one another; in non-fiction, the prevalence of bias overtakes

the realities of the issue. Non-fiction and media will paint abortion as an illegal and dangerous

procedure when in reality the deaths are statistically zero. Non-fiction might even be justifying

the ignorance of those who are pro-life. Fiction allows authors to adjust their characters and their

settings which gives an opportunity for real issues to become more concrete than reality. Amy

Hempel's story "Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep," gives readers access to a young girl who suffers

from the traumas of an abortion, which is real in many women. Unfortunately, there are not
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enough pieces about the confidence and feeling of relief some women feel after termination; this

could be reason enough to incorporate abortion into fiction pieces.

Readers get to see issues such as abortion in new settings that have not been explored

before; characters deal with decisions, and readers get to witness their thought process. The

benefit of fiction is that it lets readers delve into a topic beyond just the facts of the matter. The

need for topics such as abortion in fiction is a necessity because of the lack of pathos in non-

fiction pieces does not do justice to the realities of termination. The emotional background

developed in fiction helps the reader understand the complexities surrounding real issues.
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Works Cited

Barnard, Catherine. “Abortion Hurts Women Psychologically And Emotionally.” Heartbeat

International , 1990, www.heartbeatinternational.org/pdf/Abortion-emotional_risks.pdf.

Bilger, Micaiah. “School Board Allows Planned Parenthood Partners to Open Clinic at Local

High School.” LifeNews.com, 24 Aug. 2018, www.lifenews.com/2018/08/23/school-

board-opens-clinic-at-local-high-school-that-will-partner-with-planned-parenthood abortion-biz/.

Hempel, Amy. “Beg, Si Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep.” Doubletakes: pairs of contemporary short stories.

Ed. T. Coraghessan Boyle. Boston: Wadsworth Publishing, 2004. 382-389. Print

Tripler, Jessica. “Why We Need More Abortion Stories in Our Fiction.” Book Riot, Riot New Media

, 22 Sept. 2015, bookriot.com/2015/09/22/need-abortion-stories-fiction/.