Grace’s Story

I have had two abortions in my life, and I am not sorry. During my child-bearing years, I had four children. The youngest is now 20. I had my tubes tied after I had the last one. I have always believed that if I hadn’t had the two earlier abortions, I would never have brought my last two wonderful children into the world, as it seems four was my self-imposed limit. So where would the last two be now?

My first abortion was when I was 20. I was unmarried but in a committed relationship—to a man who protested the Vietnam War by deserting the Army before he was shipped out. I met him when he was “underground.” Because we wanted to have a normal life, he decided to face the consequences and turn himself in. He spent about a month in the stockade and was released with a Dishonorable Discharge. At the same time, I had become pregnant. I was a college student, at that time it was rare for unmarried women to keep both their babies and their reputations, and this was all too much happening at once.

So I obtained a semi-legal abortion. In 1970, New York was the only state that permitted abortions. Panicked, I wrote a letter addressed simply to “Planned Parenthood, New York City.” Not surprisingly, I never received an answer. In my own home state of Ohio, I knew that my mother had helped a friend obtain an abortion. So—the hardest conversation in my life—I went to my mother. In Ohio at that time, the only permissible abortions were to “save the life of the mother.” I interviewed with a psychiatrist who then legally stated that I would have been suicidal if I had to have the baby. That was not true, but concerned people had created this network of techniques and professionals to get around the legal obstacles. I had my first abortion in a Cleveland hospital at 12 weeks. They kept me overnight.

My second abortion was when I was married. I had three children. The youngest was just nine months old. I had recently finished nursing, but hadn’t gotten back on the Pill yet. Both my husband and I were laid off from our jobs at the same time. This was in 1982, and the country was experiencing a deep recession. Our job prospects did not look good. In some counties in Ohio, unemployment was at 25 percent! I felt overwhelmed by events.

The abortion was at an abortion clinic. I chose not to have anesthesia so that I would recover more quickly. After all, I had to get home to take care of my three children! It hurt more than I expected, but was tolerable.

We had one more child after that—a wanted child. We originally thought we’d like to have five, but realized that our four took so much money and attention that there was not room for a fifth. So I had my tubes tied.

I have been blessed with the lives of four children. I do not regret having two abortions. I believe that all of our lives have been better because I was able to control the timing of my children’s births.