In a new episode of PBS NewsHour’s Facebook Watch show “That Moment When,” Ms. co-founder Gloria Steinem looks back on her activist career—and remembers the abortion that “catapulted” her into feminism.
I had written a number of suicide notes to my loved ones. My pregnancy, in my interpretation, was a fate worse than death.
I could see the shadows of others as they entered the vestibule and rang the bell, and right after us three more women arrived and then two more. Ten abortions were scheduled for that morning. The nurse told everyone to be quiet and leave the lights off.
I had to trust this man because I knew no one else, and I was in my second month of pregnancy. We met at the hospital. I produced the money and was told to go home and wait for their call. The man was solicitous, but insultingly insinuating. I have never felt so powerless in my life.
My grandmother told me that “the doctor” asked her how long she had been knocked up. She cried when she told him that she was a married woman. He laughed and said married women don’t come to such places.
My sister and I were young girls when my older cousin visited us in New York State, coming from Illinois to access a legal abortion. Years later, I had an abortion of my own.
My mother carried enormous shame over two pregnancies—and the trauma of two dangerous abortions.
The problem was that my parents were both ministers, pastors of a tiny Assemblies of God church in which both fornication and abortion were considered sins. Another problem was that abortion was illegal.
I was 11 weeks pregnant and still hadn’t been seen by a proper physician. It took me three paychecks to save up the $250 it would cost me to see an OB/GYN. I would never make it to that appointment. The night before, I was rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and internal bleeding.
Four illegal, life-threatening abortions touched my life—and informed my fight for Roe as Executive Director of NOW-NYC in the 1970s. We cannot return to those bloody, damaging, deadly days.