Michele’s Story

I have two stories to tell, so that readers can compare my experiences with two unplanned pregnancies.

In 1967, when I was 16, birth control was a mystery to teenagers. I barely knew anything about sex, conception, pregnancy—let alone how to prevent pregnancy. You couldn’t walk into a pharmacy and buy the sponge as a woman; a teen boy would have some difficulty asking for condoms at the pharmacy, too. My doctor certainly wouldn’t have prescribed the Pill (it wasn’t around yet) or any kind of contraceptive barrier. It was unheard of! So when my boyfriend and I began to have sex, I had just this vague idea that maybe possibly something could happen from it—but I wasn’t sure, and neither was he. People had sex then just as much as they do now. We were just as human then as people are now. When I missed my period the first time, I chalked it up to nervousness over final exams. When I missed it the second time, I wasn’t sure what to think. I was getting sick all the time. I’ll leave out the details here, but the day I turned 17 I gave birth to a beautiful 9-pound baby boy. I wanted to keep him. I could have kept him. I had always wanted children. But my mother forged my name on the relinquishment papers when I was doped up from the delivery, and I had to leave the hospital without him. That was an enormous tragedy for me; my baby was stolen from me in Buffalo, New York, as so many women’s babies were during the 1950s and ’60s. Nobody told us about our rights, or about child support required from the father, or about public assistance. I could have done it with the support of my family. My grandparents, who were young, had urged my mother to let them help raise the child. Instead, I was called “selfish” for wanting to keep my baby, for wanting him to be with me instead of with some pure couple who couldn’t have one of their own.

Let’s fast forward to 1973. I was 22 years old. I had just finished college and was beginning a master’s program. I lived on my own, far from my family. I became pregnant the very first time I had sex since becoming pregnant the last time. Ironic, huh? But this time, I knew—I knew almost the instant it happened. Roe v. Wade had just been passed. Two weeks later, when my period didn’t appear, I practically RAN to the women’s clinic downtown. The abortion took less than five minutes. I was afraid I’d feel the crushing grief I’d felt when my baby was born and stolen from me—so I asked to see what they’d aborted. It was a little mass of off-white stuff…basically a bundle of cells. I knew at that instant that I had done the RIGHT thing. I felt no regret. I felt relief, relief, relief. It was okay. I did not “lose a baby.” I prevented an unplanned pregnancy. I could not raise a child right then—maybe I could have when I was 17, with my grandparents’ help—but I couldn’t do it at 22, thousands of miles from my family and poor as a church mouse. I left the clinic absolutely elated.

You know, I’d have ten abortions before I would EVER give up a child to adoption again.

I went on to have two children in my late twenties, and in my late thirties I adopted two teenage boys from foster care. That’s the only kind of adoption I support now. I reunited with my son and the grief dissipated. He has his own life and I have mine. I had another abortion when I became pregnant again at 42, the result of my husband’s flawed vasectomy! I don’t regret that one, either.

Thanks for giving women a place to let their voices be heard so that our positive experiences with abortion are not silenced!!!