I have had two abortions. The first one was in 1970, before Roe v. Wade. I was 16 years old and so dumb that I got pregnant. My father had died 18 months before; my mother had just begun her recovery from alcoholism. I was a mess. I decided that I could not have a child, but did not know what to do. I tried to induce a miscarriage by throwing myself off of a ski mobile and by being careless in other ways. That did not work. I felt I could not tell my mother, due to her precarious recovery. Thankfully, I found my way to the office at a local college of an underground organization that provided women with referrals to illegal abortion providers. I lied to my mother about where I was spending the weekend and, because we had the financial means, my boyfriend and I traveled to Puerto Rico so that I could have a D&C. When we got to the hotel in San Juan, I called a phone number and was told when I would be picked up and to “come alone.” So, I went — terrified, alone, in a foreign country, and 16. I was 11 weeks along. At the clinic, I told them I was 17 (not realizing the legal age was 18.) The doctor almost refused to do the procedure and considered sending me back to the US to get my parent’s permission. When he realized that I would not be able to do that in time to beat the 12-week window for the procedure, he went ahead with it. I don’t remember much about the actual procedure, but I do remember the enormous relief I felt when the pregnancy was over.

My second abortion was in 1976, after Roe v. Wade. The pregnancy was the result of a failed IUD. I was still a mess (see family history above) and still felt that I could not be an effective parent. I could barely take care of myself. This time, however, I simply called a local clinic and made an appointment for the abortion. Again, I remember little about the procedure. I do remember the feeling of relief that I was not going to have the baby.

It is now many years later. I have two wonderful daughters who came planned when I was emotionally healthy enough to give them a happy home. They, now, are thriving adults. I hope that they will always have the right to decide for themselves if or when to have a child.