Susan’s Story

It was 1970 and I was nineteen years old. It was a perfect Southern California night & I was hitchhiking with a male friend. The roadways were busy and soon a car stopped and my life was changed forever with that encounter. Raped, brutalized, beaten, and tortured by two men. I survived that ordeal only to be repeatedly victimized (and in the process shamed into silence) by the systems in place that were there to supposedly help me. The police whom I first reported the crime, and gave my underwear & other clothing to, I found out later, didn’t file a report. The doctor in the emergency room, where I was taken, accused me of lying. Later when I learned I was pregnant, I started the process, (the only option at that time), to obtain a legal abortion by being declared “mentally ill” by a psychiatrist. I had to submit to psychiatric testing and session after session with an unsympathetic man who made it obvious that he had no respect or empathy for me or for what I had experienced.

The system moved slowly & the weeks of my pregnancy went by. I was panic stricken of being too far along in my pregnancy to be legally allowed to have an abortion. I was so emotionally wrecked I couldn’t work so I quit my job, my car broke down alongside the road and I just walked away from it. I had no support system. I felt that what had happened to me (and the system confirmed this) was so despicable that I couldn’t share it with anyone. I begged the male friend who was there not ever to speak of it to anyone…but of course he did.

My life stopped entirely. I just stayed at home curled up in a chair, too fearful to sleep during the night and too ashamed to connect with any of my friends. They all knew but pretended they didn’t…it was painfully uncomfortable so I stopped seeing anyone. Finally, I received an appointment at the local hospital. I went alone…another horrible, isolating experience. The whispers, stares and insensitivity of the nursing staff was devastating. I have no recollection of meeting the doctor. I was completely and utterly alone through the whole ordeal and after it. But it got done.

I bled heavily for a month afterwards, I passed large pieces of tissue and was very scared. One night I passed out, I believe, from the loss of blood. The doctor who performed the abortion refused me a follow-up appointment. I was too ashamed to go to another doctor for help. Somehow I survived.

Over the years, I have remained committed to Pro-Choice objectives so that no other young woman would have to go through what I did to get an abortion. I have stood in solidarity with every woman, under any circumstances, to make that same choice. I am immensely grateful that Planned Parenthood exists & continues to offer women a supportive, empathetic, safe place to have an abortion.

Do I have any regrets? No. Am I sorry? Absolutely not! That abortion allowed me a second chance,(despite all the obstacles the system placed in my way) to get on with my life. I had three wonderful, blissful pregnancies which produced three incredible (now, young adult) children that I adore. I have a fabulous (still madly in love) marriage to the man of my dreams. I have never looked back on my decision to have an abortion as being anything but the right one. Be strong, my sisters, and have no fear or guilt in making the right choice for you.