Guilt By Association: Volvo-driving Doctor Rhonda’s backstory

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Well kiddies, today we get to meet the Volvo-driving Dr. Rhonda Marsano, abortionist at the wordily named Whatcom Women’s Center For Choice. I can’t wait!

Hmm, this doesn’t bode well for our Volvo-driving doctor, Farris is humanizing her. I mean, it could be possible that he suddenly learned how to write well-rounded characters instead of cookie cutter villains, but the first two chapters haven’t really supported that theory. However, killing her off in a fire as punishment for selling out and going to work at an abortion clinic sounds about right. We shall soon see.

Anyway, Volvo-driving Dr. Rhonda grew up in a New York City bedroom community in New Jersey, to an NBC accountant father and part-time Rutgers librarian mother. Italian Catholics, because we’ve got to introduce tension and the idea that she should have known better. As I said though, it seems like Farris is trying to humanize her, so maybe this is just his attempt at sketching out backstory.

Adding to the idea that we’re at least somewhat supposed to sympathize with Rhonda is the information that her father died during the last part of her senior year and her mother had to struggle to help her finish school. This part confuses me because her college should have been paid for through the end of the semester, it’s not like universities operate on the installment plan (as nice as that idea is).

In any case, because of her father’s death, Rhonda isn’t going to be able to go to medical school. Again, I’m a bit confused, I know PHC doesn’t take federal monies, but doesn’t Farris know about student loans? It’s not like her parents would be able to finance med school on an accountant and a part-time librarian’s salary anyway.

It seems like the dead father scenario is just a convenient ruse to explain why marginally Catholic Rhonda would take up an offer from the “Women’s Choice Clinic’s recruitment program” to have med school paid for in exchange for working for one of their abortion clinics for four years post-residency.

We’ll ignore the fact that if such a recruitment program were to exist (I’m pretty sure they don’t), the reason there would be a need for such a generous financial incentive to recruit doctors willing to perform abortions isn’t because doctors have moral qualms, it’s because abortionists keep getting shot by pro-life activists. If your alternatives are a quiet private practice in small town America or the constant fear that somebody is going to show up at your office or your church and kill you, what do you think people are going to choose?

I know I keep hammering home the point about anti-abortion violence, but this is a book about our Merry Band of Protesters being framed for arson and murder, and it’s important to remember who it is in real life who has used deadly force. I’m not intending to go into a discussion of the morality of abortion in this series because I believe that everyone on both sides of the issue should agree without any debate or caveats that the use of force is unquestionably wrong. It’s terrorism.

Very successful terrorism, I might add. When doctors aren’t performing abortions not because of morals but because of fear that they’ll be murdered, that’s pretty much the definition of terrorism. This is the context in which Michael Farris is writing Guilt By Association. It’s tantamount to writing a book implying that Al Qaeda is being unfairly framed for all the stuff they blew up and the people they killed.

Carrying on, Rhonda has three years left of her four year commitment, and then she’ll be free to move anywhere in the country to do what she really wants to do, practice medicine and save lives. “She toyed with the idea of staying in the area after fulfilling her commitment to the clinic,” Farris tells us, “but … she knew she would have to move a considerable distance to have any real chance of changing her image from an abortionist to a doctor who wanted to save lives.”

The one thing I will give to Farris is that he does make an effort at trying to make Rhonda appear human and relatable, what with the dead father and a few paragraphs describing her enjoying nature, escaping to Seattle or Vancouver on weekends, and drinking coffee, which I suppose is what Washingtonians do.

Some Professor David Gleason, sociology professor at Western Washington University, is arriving to take Rhonda “on yet another outing to Seattle.” (One of my pet peeves with Farris’ writing—everyone is introduced by their job title as if that’s part of their name, at least as long as the job title is impressive enough. Last chapter we met Pastor Randy Wallace, this chapter we get Professor David Gleason. This is not how people do this in real life).

Wait, what? Fairhaven is counterculture because of its coffee shops, long hair, and VW buses? Sure sounds an awful lot like my four years at Covenant.

Ahem, sorry for that rabbit trail, back to the story.

In Fairhaven,

“Rhonda’s job made her a hero of “the movement.” Environmentalists were held in great esteem, but they were a dime a dozen. Bellingham’s first abortionist was a rare commodity and a veritable hero in this politically correct community.”

YOU WERE DOING SO WELL WITH MAKING CHARACTERS HUMAN AND NOW THIS CARDBOARD CUTOUT! Bad job, Mike, bad job.

David likes Rhonda because not only is she “beautiful” (I guess we really are supposed to sympathize with Rhonda, at least somewhat. Farris only calls female characters we’re supposed to like “beautiful), “her “feminist” practice enhanced his standing among his liberal peers.” OMG! MIKE FARRIS INVENTED THE CREEPY “MALE FEMINIST” A DECADE AHEAD OF HUGO SCHWYZER! I’m not sure how I feel about this development.

Further demonstrating that we are supposed to be sympathizing with Rhonda, Farris tells us that “Inwardly, however, Rhonda’s views were more traditional.” She’s not exactly a big fan of David’s, “all-consuming commitment to the movement,” either. Oh yeah, and she wears minimal makeup, which probably is supposed to emphasize that underneath her “grisly job” she’s just a good little traditional woman who wandered from the path. Well, either that, or she’s so beautiful she doesn’t need lots of makeup, but I’m going with the former.

Oooh, another mention of the “Vince” from the first chapter. Who is this Vince and why do we keep getting mentions with no details? Apparently he’s a jerk but also a hottie because, in making comparisons between Male Feminist David and Mysterious Vince, “As much as she had been hurt by Vince, it still wasn’t much of a contest.”

I guess we’re going to have to wait to find out who Vince is and why he’s important, because with that the chapter ends. Next time we find out more about College Student Suzie (not totally sold on that name).

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