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Abortion – the Elephant in the Room

Abortion – the Elephant in the Room

The first story in my book is about abortion, which is a very personal subject for me, even though it is not my story.

For nearly 50 years, abortion was legal in America. I remember when Roe v. Wade became law. Not because I understood about laws, but because my mother was so happy about it. I never knew exactly what experienced had influenced her so personally. There are so many possibilities. It could have been something that happened to her; it could have been someone she knew. It could have been the experience and shame of having to bring an unwanted child to term, of everyone knowing that you had had sex, of everyone thinking the worst of you. Or it could have been the danger of an illegal abortion. And perhaps permanent damage, or perhaps death.

There were many possibilities and all of them were bad. So, legal abortion was a turning point in her life, which she passed on to me. I would never have to bear an unwanted child. I would never have to walk around pregnant, or hide in a home so that others couldn’t see. I would not be forced into a shot-gun marriage to someone I didn’t love. I would not become attached to the being in my womb, but have to put it up for adoption.

To prevent this, I would have an abortion. The being in my womb would be flushed out, and my ordinary, or extraordinary life would resume its course.

And my mother said one other thing that stuck with me for life. I could not bring an unwanted child home. It never occurred to me that this was unusual. I thought it was sensible. My mother had raised three children and didn’t want to raise any more. She might be a grandparent and occasionally baby-sit. But there were to be no babies, no toddlers, no children living in her home because I had been careless with birth-control.

This had a major effect on me. It meant that abortion was more than an option. It was an expectation. And, when I saw teenagers choose to bring a child to term, I thought that it was horribly unfair to their parents, who would have to help shoulder the new responsibility that they had not asked for or expected.

When the anti-abortion movement began, I was infuriated. How could people decide that they had the right to interfere in a woman’s private decision. But the movement grew. I saw the protests. I saw abortionists die. I heard the threats. And that’s when I started donating to pro-choice organizations.

First, I donated to Planned Parenthood. When I was in 8th grade, a classmate of mine was sexually active and she seemed to know absolutely nothing about birth control, perhaps because she was Catholic. I turned to my mother, who drove us both to Planned Parenthood, where my friend could get a bit more of an education… and some condoms. She was pregnant and married by age 15. But I have always remembered that Planned Parenthood was far more than an abortion provider.

I then started donating to the political organizations. NARAL was a lobbying group, EMILY’S List supported female political candidates who were Democrats and pro-choice. Obviously, this did not save us from the Supreme Court. So then, I found my last charity. The National Network of Abortion Funds. This organization made it possible for women without means to get abortions. To afford the cost of the procedure, to have the funds for travel, for lodging, everything they needed to make abortion possible. I have also kept track of the abortion providers in the US, hoping that I could help as I could.

When I retire, I hope to be an escort or driver or host, helping women get to Maryland, where abortion is legal. It’s personal. And it’s the best I can do.

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