Fictionalizing the pro-choice issue is creative, to say the least; it’s also the most that can be said of Robert C. Jackson’s The Clinic. An over-abundance of characters, inconsistencies in names, ages and the passage of time are among the book’s distractions that do little to further the pro-choice cause — or make for a good read.
Several sub stories clutter the backdrop, including a sick child and a new romance; however, the main action focuses on the well-defined pro-choice philosophy of Dr. Kathleen Erickson (also known as Dr. Erickson, Kathleen, Doctor, Kathy and Kate), along with the dangers she faces as a consequence. While not quite a whodunit, The Clinic is more a who-is-it, revolving around who is making threats to the main character, her family and the clinic.
Dr. Erickson is a Superwoman. Although she has a housekeeper, this widowed mother of two young children (who age disproportionately to the elapsed time in the novel) is an OB/GYN in private practice. Kathy also works one morning a week at the Free Choice Clinic for Women, aka The Clinic, where she offers counseling and performs therapeutic abortions.
Medical colleagues, office nemeses, pro-life supporters and teens seeking birth control counseling are among the many characters in this heavily populated novel. The result is a surfeit of cardboard personalities without distinct voices. The pro-choice proponents sound alike — male or female, physician or housekeeper — while the majority of pro-life characters sound as if they come from somewhere other than modern-day Portland, Ore.: “Tell you sompin, copper, I’m goin’ for a short stay, so what do yuh want to know?”
No matter where one stands on the pro-choice issue, this book is not likely to make for a satisfying reading experience.
Also available in e-book.