As the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaches on Jan. 22—and with the Supreme Court set to revisit women’s fundamental right to access abortion in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole case, the most serious threat to abortion since 1992—the Ms. Blog decided to look back at the realities of illegal abortion pre-Roe, and for women today who lack access to proper care.
As part of our #WeWontGoBack campaign, Ms. Blog readers are sharing their own stories, or the stories of friends and family members who have resorted to illegal abortions because they had no choice. Use the hashtag to share your story on social media.
By Rachel Feldman
It was 1971. I was 17, a junior in high school. I’d just started having sex with my first serious boyfriend. We had sex as often as possible.
We used condoms, most of the time. My periods never came regularly enough to track, so if I was menstruating, or it was just after, we could skip the condom. I told my mother I wanted to go to Planned Parenthood and get the pill. She said the pill was dangerous.
Soon, I was overcome with exhaustion. I took art classes in the city at night and missed my stop one night on the way home, I was sleeping so hard. Then my mother noticed that there were no tampon wrappers in the trash for a while and realized what was going on before I did. I peed in a jar and my dad took it to his friend’s office, who was my mom’s gynecologist.
Fortunately, he performed abortions. My mom had had one a few years before. No one said this out loud, but for upper-middle class families like mine, in large cities with progressive populations, help did exist.
The doctor was very nice to me. Gentle and kind. When we were alone, he explained everything, asked me if this is what I wanted, and made me promise to be more responsible in the future.
The procedure was painless. There was no recovery to speak of. I was so lucky. He was a great man.
Over the course of my life, I became pregnant four more times. Two times I again opted for abortions, this time legal. The two other times culminated in amazing children when I was ready to be a responsible parent.
Do I wish I had been a more responsible girl? Of course. But I am grateful for having been able to navigate my own life, my personal decisions not made by anyone but me and my loved ones.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Sarah Reid licensed under Creative Commons 2.0