Irene Vilar worries that her self-described “abortion addiction” will be misunderstood, twisted by the pro-life movement to deny women the right to choose.
Her book, “Impossible Motherhood,” which will be released by Other Press on Oct. 6, chronicles her own dark choices: 15 abortions in 16 years, much of it as a married woman.
As press on the book has begun to leak out, Vilar – a literary agent and editor — says she has already sensed “an inkling of hatred.”
Vilar has scheduled only closed-door interviews and will not do a book tour. At the urging of her husband, they have made sure all public property records do not reflect her name, so she cannot be targeted at their home.
“I am worried about my safety and the hate mail,” she told ABCNews.com in a telephone interview as her home-schooled children were at work on a painting project.
“No book like this has ever been written,” she told ABCNews.com. “I just imagine the ‘baby killer’ and I could be a poster child for that kind of fundamentalism. And there are my little kids in all of that.”
Read an excerpt from “Impossible Motherhood.” - http://www.otherpress.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781590513200&view=excerpt.
Today, at 40, the Latina author has two young children, but her troubled past continues to haunt her well into motherhood.
She grew up in the shadow of her notorious grandmother Puerto Rican nationalist Lolita Lebron, who stormed the Capitol steps with a gun in 1954. Lebron served 25 years in jail for the crime until receiving a pardon from President Carter in 1979.
Her mother committed suicide by throwing herself from a moving car when Vilar was 8 and two of her brothers were heroin addicts.
**Mass Sterilization in Puerto Rico
Vilar’s story is set against the backdrop of the American-led mass sterilization program in her native Puerto Rico from 1955 to 1969, a fitting symbol for her struggle with her own reproduction.
By 1974, 37 percent of all Puerto Rican women of childbearing age had been permanently sterilized in that experiment.
“Women tend to repeat behaviors,” Vilar said of herself. Her mother’s forced hysterectomy without hormone treatment at the age of 33, led to depression and a Valium addition.
Vilar attended boarding school in New Hampshire and was just 15 when she left for Syracuse University, where she fell in love and later married her first husband, a tyrannical 50-year-old professor.
With a predilection for young women, he bragged that his relationships had never lasted more than five years and that having children killed sexual desire.
She says their emotionally dependent relationship was riddled with shame, self-mutilation and several suicide attempts.