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
. 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
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

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

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

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." 

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
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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