Tea, Cookies and At-Home Abortions


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 Laura Lamar

My grandmother and I were driving by a lovely home just outside Chicago during my senior year of high school, in 1971. She told me that in the 1930s, after having two wanted children, she had seven abortions performed by a female doctor in that home. The women would gather on Saturdays and Sundays, the doctor would perform a D&C, and the women would have tea and cookies. Then they would return home with no one the wiser. My grandmother told me she wanted two children who would finish college. My mom graduated in 1947 with a degree in social work.

Soon thereafter, I became pregnant. Out of fear and denial, I did not share my secret. My mother figured it out and my parents told me that I would make a decision, with help if needed, and they would support any decision I made. My father took me to New York City and I had an abortion. No regrets for even a moment. The staff at the hospital treated me with compassion, understanding and respect. It forced me to grow up and take responsibility.

I entered nursing school and, during training, worked with women who were having abortions. While working as an RN, I met the woman who performed my grandmother’s abortions. We had one conversation about it wherein I thanked her for improving so many lives in my family. Then I went on to law school and life is great!

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ivana Vasilj licensed under Creative Commons 2.0