‘The Cider House Rules’ argues for abortion rights through compelling characters

Adrianna Nehme, News Editor

The “The Cider House Rules” navigates a complex narrative about abortion rights with nuance. (Black Swan Publishing)

When orphan Homer Wells expresses unwillingness to perform abortions in “The Cider House Rules,” a novel by John Irving, obstetrician and abortionist Dr. Wilbur Larch questions how Homer feels no obligation to help women in need who can’t get abortions anywhere else.

As the United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing the legality of abortion, “The Cider House Rules” brings the topic of abortion to the forefront in a nuanced and complete manner through compelling and imaginative writing. 

Mr. Irving discusses the importance of legalizing abortion and uses graphic examples that arise when women don’t have access to a safe abortion, such as severe illness and death. Mr. Irving writes, “That making abortion illegal was simply a sanctimonious, self-righteous form of violence against women — it was just another way of legalizing violence against women.” He portrays different perspectives on abortion through a character who believes women should have access to abortions yet refuses to carry out the procedure, and highlights the conflict that arises between characters as a result of varying viewpoints on the subject. 

The landmark Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States and gave women access to have the procedure done safely and without legal consequence.  “The Cider House Rules” shows the reader the future struggles women might face depending on how the case currently under the threat of a new Supreme Court vote is decided.