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I had my abortion in 1962. Back then, abortion was illegal, and taboo. Not stigmatized like today, but completely taboo. You didn’t do it, but more so, you absolutely didn’t discuss it. Quickly after I found out I was pregnant I began attempting to find a doctor that performed abortions. Through a friend of a friend, I found one, and my boyfriend drove me to New York City to have it performed.We were both eighteen, and I was six weeks pregnant.

The abortion cost 400 dollars, which, even by today’s standards, is expensive. I went to a doctor’s office after the practice was shut for the day. The doctor was kind. We paid him in cash and my boyfriend sat in the waiting room while I followed the doctor through the empty office. The procedure took about forty minutes and was excrutiatingly painful. The doctor told me I would have to be quiet and I somehow managed not to scream. I remember feeling that I deserved the pain, that I had called this situation upon myself.

Afterwards, I rejoined my boyfriend in the lobby. The doctor told us to have a good meal and then gave me a bag of candies. I’ll always remember that. I always wanted to know- who were those candies intended for? Did he give them to all his “patients?”  Several years later my boyfriend and I married, and two years later I gave birth to a daughter. I had two more children, another girl and a boy.

My children have grown older, and the world has changed. I’ve watched abortion become, however debated, legal, and watch as generations of women accept the right to choose as a give-in. I’ve volunteered at women’s clinics and taught my children about the importance of birth control and a woman’s right to choose. I’ve often thought about the child I didn’t have.  But more so, I think about how grateful I am that I no longer have to carry around the burden of a taboo- that I can speak publicly, or online, or with my family and not be fearful of judgment, let alone legal consequence. But I’m also saddened about the women who still don’t have access to legal abortions and have to face the fear, dangers and complications of illegal abortions.

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