‘A New Generation of Powerless Women’: On Life Before Roe, and Fears for the Future

‘A New Generation of Powerless Women’: On Life Before Roe, and Fears for the Future

Readers, including those who had abortions, an “unwanted fetus” and an obstetrician, recall how girls and women dealt with unplanned pregnancies pre-Roe.

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It took me so long to find any doctor who would perform an abortion that by the time I was examined by one, he told me that he couldn’t help me as I had entered the second trimester.

Words fail to describe my utter desperation, and this kind man was moved enough to call his wife, then take me to his home in Washington, D.C., at the end of his workday. After confirming that I would not tell my strict parents about the pregnancy and that I had absolutely no intention of giving birth, https://datingreviewer.net/hookup-apps-for-couples/ he arranged for me to travel by train to a woman who would perform the abortion. He gave me a vial of antibiotics and wished me luck.

What I didn’t know was that she would be inebriated, use her kitchen table for the insertion of a catheter to induce labor and lock me alone in a room for 36 hours. I am almost 80 now, and I still count that abortion weekend as the most frightening time of my life. It was what motivated me to be a pro-choice activist for the rest of my life.

As an 18-year-old college student in 1962 who had just ended a relationship with my first sexual partner, I was devastated to learn that I was pregnant

When the Supreme Court made Roe v. Wade the law of the land, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that back-alley abortions would not be needed ever again. My heart breaks for all the future women with unwanted pregnancies.

I was an unwanted fetus. I was a fetus who caused disgrace and forced a geographical move, a tortuous upheaval and a premature adulthood no one was ready for. It’s delicate because no one wants to admit they wish they weren’t born, but I must give voice to what no one wants to admit: It’s difficult coming into a world where you’re unwanted, where your parents are children who made a mistake and now have to pretend they’re in love and all was “meant to be.”

It starts a whole life of pretending. Pretending you want a baby. Pretending you want to be married. Pretending you’re ready to quit school and give up all your dreams to parent. Pretending your dress isn’t getting tight by wearing a girdle. Pretending you’re happy. How terrifying it must’ve been to have no way out.

You think I didn’t absorb that shame? I did. I absorbed my parents’ shame deeply into my inner core. I carry it still. Their shameful secret became me.

Please let me be anonymous. I am almost 69 years old and my parents didn’t have a choice. To revoke Roe v. Wade at this point would be an unconscionable move backward. Let’s not flood this country with more unwanted children without the medical, financial and educational systems in place to support them.

In 1971, just before the Roe v. Wade decision, I was a first-year student at Princeton Theological Seminary, studying for my master of divinity degree. A former Catholic, I was assigned a part-time work-study position at the State Home for Girls in Trenton. Many of the teenage residents were there because a parent or guardian had declared them as troubled or incorrigible.

I was asked to pastor to these girls, many of whom had been sexually assaulted by their mothers’ boyfriends

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