I had my abortion in 1971, pre Roe v. Wade, in NYC. I had never been outside my Southern state by myself before and I was terrified. I was a very immature 20 y.o. from a very proper family that did not abide “bad girls” and was so lacking in sex education that I was 4 months along before I even guessed I was pregnant.

My boyfriend was older and, unbeknownst to me at the time, suffered from manic depression. He was abusive and I knew marriage was out of the question (he cried when it was suggested). His mother, a doctor, was very kind and arranged for me to fly to NYC….alone. She tucked 6 hundred dollar bills into my hand and drove me to the airport early one morning. I couldn’t tell my parents who were very punitive and would have surely disowned me for shaming the family. I would have killed myself before I would have told them.

The people at the clinic were very kind, but I was terrified. I was convinced I would die there and my family would never know what had happened to me. I was shocked to see a large group of girls and women there from all over the country. We shared our stories and realized our reasons for terminating our pregnancies were as varied as the reasons we got pregnant in the first place. Ignorance of our own bodies was one reason for many of us and, as in my case, faulty birth control was a major factor. The counselors gave us valuable information and a crash course in sex-ed for the more naive among us. The procedure was a saline injection through the abdomen. It was painful and sad. I was in a hospital for two days scared to death. I remember writing my will…..which, looking back over these 41 years seems odd, but it was obviously just my terrible fear of what was to come.

When it was over I flew home exhausted.

No one was there to meet me so I took a taxi to my boyfriend’s house to convalesce for a few days…..I had lied to my parents and told them I was in TN visiting my best friend. My boyfriend had a party while I was gone.

I do not regret getting an abortion. I do wish I could have shared my story with my Mom before she died, but I never found the right time. My experience gave me the courage to leave my abusive relationship. A few years later I married a wonderful guy and have two children. I made sure they (a boy and a girl) had all the information they needed about their bodies and reproduction at the appropriate time and they later learned why their Mom was such a staunch advocate for women’s issues.