The Roe v Wade decision was made in January 1973. I had my abortion in 1970, and I had it in Mexico City. I was 22, had a 1-1/2 year old child, a husband with a minimum-wage job, and was taking in ironing and cleaning houses to bring in extra money. We were using birth control – condoms and vaginal foam — and they failed us. My husband was developing a serious drug and alcohol problem which didn’t go “full-blown” until a year later, but the trajectory was obvious. We were not financially or emotionally ready for a second child and I was absolutely sure about my decision to have an abortion, but because of the intense social stigma, my husband and I did not tell friends or family what we were going to do.
I went to my gynecologist and told him what I wanted — he was known in our community as a doctor who would sometimes perform abortions illegally. Not only did he refuse, but he acted horrified to have been asked and very judgemental.
At the time, there was a national “underground” network of women who helped guide women to abortion providers who were safe — and the nearest one to my southwest location was in Mexico. I was put into phone contact with the doctor’s wife, who was American, who gave me all the info and directions to find my way to a Mexico City hotel where i would then be picked up by people unknown to me and transported to the clinic. I was 22, had never traveled outside of the USA, and spoke very little Spanish. I gave myself up entirely to people I had never met in person, who were going to perform an illegal operation on me in a foreign country. And even with the fear and trepidation i was experiencing, I did this, because I knew it was the right thing for me and my family.
The procedure went smoothly and i made my way back home, where several days later I began to experience heavy vaginal bleeding. I called my GYN office and told them the truth about my scenario, but they refused to see me. Luckily, the heavy bleeding stopped and all seemed well.
About one year later, my husband’s addiction was totally out of control, and I wound up leaving him because I became fearful for my safety and the safety of my child.
I am so thankful for the many brave women throughout the USA who were willing to risk imprisonment to guide me — and thousands of other women — to get a safe abortion. It was the springboard for my subsequent years of working and volunteering in the reproductive health care world.