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Archive for the ‘Illegal Abortions’ Category


Friday, July 16th, 2010

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.

The Difference Between Us

Monday, May 31st, 2010

How I felt at the time…

Really, really scared. Ashamed. Felt like I had really messed up.

How I feel now…

Blessed that I have this right and adamant that every woman should have the right to choose.

My story…

I was overseas when I found out I was pregnant, in a staunchly Catholic third world country. I was going to school, living in a dorm with a hundred other girls my age, all locals. I didn’t want to tell them my fear of being pregnant- I didn’t speak the language well enough to communicate it anyways, but I asked a girl where a pharmacy was. I followed her directions and got to a little pharmacy. I tried to explain what I wanted, resorting to hand signals and facial expressions. The pharmacist tried to follow, eventually sliding birth control pills across the counter. No, I shook my head, too late for that. I didn’t even need to take the test, but I did anyways. Afterwards, i IMed my boyfriend, told him the news. Then, desperate, scared, I walked through the dark streets until I found a phone booth. I called my parents. I can remember the conversation, how quickly I started crying. Two days later I was on a plane back home. The girls at the school asked me what was wrong, why I had to leave so suddenly. I only hesitated for a second before I told them there was a death in the family. It was basically true, or it would be.  The strangest part is, what resonated with me the most, what consumed me at that point,  was the sudden difference between me and these girls. The difference that nationality, and money and choice offered. (more…)

My Mother’s Story

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

What year did you have your abortion?

1974, 1976, 1978

How old were you when you had your abortion?

18, 20, 22.

How did you feel at the time?

Fine, relieved.

How do you feel now?

Great and thankful.

My story…

When i was a young woman my mother answered a request by an author who wrote for the new yorker magazine. this author wanted to interview women who had had illegal abortions. while i don’t think the author ever traveled to vermont to speak with my mother and my grandmother, it opened the conversation between my mother, my grandmother and me and my 3 sisters. collectively we had had 12 abortions. we all unburdened ourselves of our stories. i cannot remember gramma mary’s story other than that it was in the 1920’s. but i clearly recall my mom’s; it was 1958 and she had had 4 children and one miscarriage and once again her diaphragm had failed her. (more…)

The “Talk”

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

How I felt at the time…

I feel that my husband and I made a good choice for two 19 year old students who were in no position to take care and provide for a child at that stage of life. We were incredibly blessed to have as our doctor a very caring and ethical person who although he perforated my uterus, rushed me to the hospital and fixed me up so I would live and also be able to have children.

How I feel now…

As a woman beyond her child bearing years I can look back and think about how it would have been wonderful to have had more children but the abortion was the perfect choice at that time in my life.

My story…

Reaching a decision sometimes happens because of one’s perception of circumstances at a particular time and place. In order to properly share my story so that it serves as an inspiration, you need to understand that growing up in my family, we didn’t sit down to have the “talk.” In fact, somehow it was assumed that we knew exactly what we were supposed to know without ever having really had our parents explain about our bodies and ourselves as sexual beings. I do not blame or point fingers; in fact, I take full responsibility for not having all my facts when I decided to “make love” for the very first time. My lover, who has been my husband for the past 35 plus years, also didn’t have very factual information about sex. (more…)