In 1961 when I was 17 I had an illegal abortion. My experience wasn’t as awful as some because I was lucky and my parents helped me. First I went to a doctor who my parents found through some friends, and I pretended that my parents didn’t know I was pregnant because we thought he would charge me less. But instead it seemed he thought he could take advantage of me. His manner was creepy, his office was dark and unclean, and he told me not to say the word “abortion.” He put his hand on my knee, was eager to give me a pelvic exam instead of a pregnancy test, and said I would need to come back a second time to be examined again. Because I knew my parents would support me I walked out. I think it was a narrow escape and I’ve always shuddered to think what might have happened if I wasn’t able to do that. Then my parents found another doctor – interesting that they seemed to have more than one friend whose daughter had had an abortion – and he seemed safer. A time was arranged and this time my mother came with me. It was at night and there was no nurse or assistant there, but his office was clean and he seemed professional. My mother waited in the waiting room during the procedure, and what I remember is that the doctor spoke to me the whole time saying things like, “this is what happens when you sin… stay quiet and don’t make any noise or I will stop and you’ll have to have this baby… I hope this will teach you a lesson…” and so on. It was shaming, but thankfully there were no medical complications. I have never had any regrets or and went on to have a normal pregnancy some years later. I am very thankful for my abortion, I believe my life would have been radically different – and worse – without it.
And, though I don’t really think it matters how a woman gets pregnant if she doesn’t want the baby, I got pregnant as the result of an elaborate trick played on me by two college boys I knew. They wanted to write a play about a woman sleeping first with one and then the other but they thought they should write from actual experience so they were actually looking for someone to play the part – without knowing it of course – and found me when I was set up on a blind date with one of them. Back then I had the idea that being a “tease” (luckily that concept has fallen out of favor) was the worst thing a girl could do, so I did sleep with each of them. Soon after, they sat me down and told me what had been going on, said they didn’t need me anymore, and that they hoped I could appreciate that I had made a contribution to “art.”
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