In 1970 I was talked into a one-night stand by a guy who played on my sympathy. I was 23 years old and at the conclusion of our “connection”, I knew I was impregnated…I don’t know how I knew at that moment…I just did. I lived in Ohio where I was brought up to feel shame about sex in general and where abortion was unthinkable, let alone illegal.
After my family doctor verified my condition, my very sympathetic mother (even after having eight children of her own) asked me very kindly what I wanted to do. All I could say was, “I can’t have it. I’m not ready.” She didn’t lecture me, just matter-of-factly contacted my doctor for his advice. He was a very sophisticated MD trained in New York City who had saved my life as a baby. Still having connections in that city, he arranged for my mother and me to fly there to a very reputable hospital near Central Park West. At that time, the state of New York was the only place performing legal abortions.
Needless to say, there were so many women lined up in the hospital hallway waiting for their pelvic exams that I felt I was part of an assembly line…even more so after the cursory and rapid exam I was given. The doctor merely said “eight weeks…next!” or so it seemed to me. I couldn’t blame him as the entire staff seemed to have too many women to attend to and little time to spend with any of us. After the (D&C) procedure, my mother and I flew back to Ohio, immediately leaving once more to take a restful vacation to Florida for my recuperation. We got to Tennessee and checked into a motel.
That night, I woke up with excruciating cramps and, by morning, I was bleeding heavily and passing what appeared to be fetal tissue. I lost so much blood that I had to be carried out of the motel to our car. My mother took me to a local doctor, who refused to examine me. All he would do was to give me an injection to slow the bleeding and then send us on our way back to Ohio. My mother had to drive the entire distance without rest, only stopping to get a snack and fuel, with me lying in the back seat falling in and out of consciousness.
She phoned our doctor about twenty miles before we arrived in my home town and arranged to meet him at the local hospital emergency room on arrival. After an emergency D&C, innumerable blood transfusions (so it seemed), and a 5-day hospital stay, I was bedridden at home for another week, feeling so depleted that I could barely walk to the bathroom.
It seems sickly ironic to me that, even though I had the procedure legally performed in one of the best, most prestigious hospitals in New York City, I still came very, very close to death. I am horrified to think what might have happened had I been forced to take an illegal and more dangerous path to secure a future of my own choosing, and I refuse to accept the unjust and inhumane intention by the “anti-choice” crowd to take away the future of any other woman.