Maureen’s Story

My name is Maureen, and I had an amnio-infusion abortion circa 1970. I was 23 years old, as happily unmarried as I am today, and the sole support of myself. A male friend’s girlfriend had asked to borrow a few of my birth control pills, promising to give them back when she got hers. I should have known better, as she was decidedly flakey at the best of times. Because I “spotted”, I was not aware I was pregnant for a couple of months. Then I went to an old family doctor who, without tests, assured me I wasn’t pregnant. Soon my jeans wouldn’t button, and I went to the Los Angeles Free Clinic, where they assured me I was!

In those days, to secure a legal abortion, a woman had to see a psychiatrist who would attest to the fact that carrying the pregnancy to term might endanger the woman’s life (potential for suicide). In essence, a woman had to be diagnosed as terminally depressed and a danger to herself. In addition, a panel of at least three doctors had to medically rule on the need for the abortion. I was steered to both a sympathetic psychiatrist (I believe the form letter was probably pre-written and the name plugged in), and to the Los Angeles County Hospital committee to file my request for an abortion. The panel met once and somehow my request fell through the cracks. The next time they met (a week or three later), they approved my request. Finally, I was given an appointment with a doctor there. By now, so much time had passed in trying to obtain a lega, safe abortion, I was no longer eligible for an extraction, but rather had to have an amnio-infusion.

My caseworker at The Free Clinic warned me that I might face some hostility from members of the nursing or other staff at the hospital, some of whom had religious objections to abortion. However, I received nothing but good care and support at L.A. County General Hospital. In fact the only negative comment I heard was from a nurse who called me a “dud” when my labor contractions stopped for a while after they gave me a Darvon for pain after several hours.

A needle with saline solution had been introduced into the placenta through my abdomen. By the next day I had gone into labor and the products of conception had been expelled (and were infected, as it turns out). Later, I was sent home, with medication to dry up the milk.

I will be forever in the debt of all the doctors and nurses who provided me such care and support, and helped me abort this unwanted and unplanned pregnancy. As I believe a woman should have control of her own body, and that a baby is a creature defined by its ability to survive outside her body (and not a ball of cells or a fetus with the potential to someday become a baby), it would have been very unlikely that I would experience any remorse or guilt. It is 37 years later, and I am still grateful that I was able to have an abortion in a U.S. hospital, with state-of-the-art technology and trained staff.

For people like me, who do not believe in god or religious strictures, and who support scientific research and fact-based laws, the right to an abortion is very important. It is one of the ways that our fellow but differently-brain-mapped humans can demonstrate that they acknowledge that where they rely on faith, that is not an option for everyone, and our right to self-determination is as important as their right to self-subjugation to a creator.