To the Editor:
Here’s what I remember from 1973. I started public high school, transitioning from a private, Catholic school. I learned to drive, smoked my first cigarette, and kissed my first boy. My world was narrow and I had little awareness of politics or even reproductive rights.
Four years later, having agency over my own body would be my highest priority. In 1977 I was a high school dropout and pregnant at 18 years old. I wasn’t raped or molested, I was a sexually active girl, ignorant about my body. I knew I did not want to be pregnant or a mother. I wanted to return to being a carefree girl again. So I told my Catholic parents who promptly helped me obtain my first abortion at 18 years old. It is not a pleasant memory. It was physically painful and emotionally isolating. There was only shame and disappointment. I definitely did not want to do that again.
At the age of 26, I was a mother of a 2 year old and in the middle of a messy divorce when I found out I was pregnant again. My life was in chaos as I struggled to be a mother, I was sure of one thing: I would not be having another child. I had my second abortion, telling no one, alone but finding support from the exceptional people at Planned Parenthood. They provided me with empathy and kindness, my first full education about long term reproductive healthcare, and yes, a safe abortion.
As I reflect back on my past abortions, I am grateful that I had the option to choose a safe way to end a pregnancy. I believe that if I had not had a safe option, I would have tried to end the pregnancies any way possible at the risk of my own life.
I share this deeply personal story, not to change minds but to support others who have made this choice. I want you to know that there is a silent sisterhood in this conservatively religious community. You are not defined by this choice. You do not need to live in shame, fear, sadness, or isolation.
You are not alone.
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