Diane’s Story

My abortion was in 1970 in Hawaii when only Hawaii and New York allowed legal abortions, pre Roe v. Wade. I had full anesthesia.

I was a junior at Oregon State University, became involved with an Abusive African American man who pressured me into sex (I thought I wanted what he wanted even though I knew better and felt too embarrassed to go to the health clinic and get birth control, it was being offered female students but rather surreptitiously at the time, there was great ambivalence). I was an out-of-state student from Hawaii living in the dorm at OSU.

I had a friend in the dorm (all women at the time) that warned me about taking more chances, especially as it became clear that the guy I was seeing was not treating me well. I broke up with him and felt certain I would not be pregnant but missed my period. Eating habits changed.

I had a yeast infection and was seeing a local off-campus gynecologist at the time. I had him do a pregnancy test at the advice of my friend. It was positive. I said I didn’t want the baby and all he responded with was “Babies are to be born. The good news is your yeast infection is cleared up!”

I was shocked, livid and dumbfounded to say the least. I walked back to campus, found a phone booth, and called my mother in Hawaii (very progressive but also sexually conservative because all moms were in those days). I told her what happened and started sobbing (a month earlier had been in an accident with this same boyfriend and my back was broken, fortunately not seriously but serious enough). She was quite coincidentally an R.N. working at Kapiolani Hospital where all the abortions were being done at the time. She just said come home and we’ll take care of it.

I did fly home, lied to all my friends at school that my father was ill. She knew a very nice doctor, an older doctor, Dr. Sinclair, whom she contacted. To protect the family he suggested the abortion be done at the main hospital there (cannot think of the name of the hospital right now). At first I tested negative, he said wait another week, I finally tested positive and he scheduled the procedure.

When my mother took me for the hospital admissions a day prior to surgery, the admissions director had to verify that I was living in Hawaii at the time of conception. (Can you believe that? It was a legislative “rider” attached to the legalization of abortion in Hawaii at the time). I stupidly answered no I was attending OSU in Oregon, thinking of course I’m a resident I qualify. She said “I’m sorry we cannot do the procedure since you were not living here when you became pregnant.” My mother was quick in her response and said “Oh she’s been here for 6 months, she took a leave from OSU.” The woman agreed to allow the procedure. I’m sure in retrospect the woman knew the truth but just needed to protect her job.

The procedure was done with full anesthesia. It was pretty traumatic; all I remember is my mother sitting by my side prior to surgery, being wheeled into the operating room, looking up at those big surgical lights and then waking up in recovery thinking “Thank God I am not pregnant anymore” and seeing my mother as soon as I was out of recovery.

I returned to OSU and finished the school year, still numb and grateful. A year later I married a guy in my Herpetology class who wondered why I had missed a great field trip doing a reptile count in Eastern Oregon at the time. We are no longer married but he has been a great friend.

I decided after that abortion I would NEVER become pregnant again, and haven’t. If there had been less trauma and shame attached to abortions at the time I probably would have had a child later on. I was enraged at what I had to go through, my father was not so sympathetic, to this day he reminds me of that abortion (he’s an atheist, we have not had a good relationship to say the least). I finally ended the discussion once and for all.

It was my mother to whom I owe my gratitude for that procedure, the child would have been bi-racial in an extremely bigoted world.

I now have a friend on Death Row (a whole other story) who is bi-racial. He was illegally adopted by white people (he believes he is Native American but still does not know his biological background or parents). He said he wished-in his own words-he had been “flushed down the toilet.”

I have ironically joined the Catholic Church. I am open about my pro choice views and I tell my story as often as I can with Catholic and non-Catholic friends. I tell Catholics in a perfect world abortions are not needed but we are living in a very broken world. And what about all the kids in foster homes? Where is the compassion for them? None.