I came of age in the 70’s after “free love” in the 60’s and before Aids in the 80’s. Roe v Wade was new but felt inevitable at the time, it was a right not a privilege like The Pill and Planned Parenthood. My Mom took me to Planned Parenthood for my first pregnancy test. These weren’t available at the drug store at the time and while I was physiologically a woman I was underage by law. I was fitted with a diaphragm and nodded as the nurse showed me how to use it. It’s hard to say who had more shame, Mom or me. Needless to say, the diaphragm required much more conscious effort than I was willing to commit to in practice. Sex, drugs and alcohol were more important than stopping the action to find the clam shell case in my bag and fill it with spermicide (did I even bring it?) before insertion. These were the days of Erika Jong’s book “Fear of Flying” and the concept of the “Zipless Fuck” when a woman could fantasize about clothes that fell away as if they didn’t have closures. I hadn’t read the book yet but the idea was in the zeitgeist.
I went to Mexico for Spring Break, senior year. This was long before Spring Break became a rite of passage and even longer before Girls Gone Wild. A few of my friends convinced a “cool” younger teacher at our high school to be our chaperone on a trip to Acapulco and with our parent’s approval we spent the week binge drinking and eating burritos of questionable quality at Senor Frogs so it was no surprise that I ended up dehydrated in the hospital when I got back after vomiting in 1st period Italian for a week. On the second day in the hospital, with an IV in my arm they told me and Mom that I was pregnant. There was no question that I was going to get an abortion, the only question was if I could convince Mom not to tell Dad, but she would tell him and the fantasy of being Daddy’s perfect little girl was gone. The best thing about being pregnant was that you couldn’t get more pregnant and there was a feeling of freedom which made my boyfriend, Judd, especially happy for the 2 weeks before the appointment.
Mom took me to the clinic downtown on the bus and it was over in an hour and we took the bus home. I had local anesthesia and there was some pain, but it was manageable, but I was pissed because my mother wouldn’t take me home in a taxi after a medical procedure. I felt like she was being cheap and punishing me. The next three abortions I had in my early 20’s with boyfriends as my companion. It was still pre -Aids and I was going to hold on to the idea of the “Zipless Fuck” for a long as possible. My fifth and final abortion was with my husband. It was late -maybe 5 months, but too early in our relationship to consider a family. I was in my late 30’s, we were in love and we had an awareness that this was our child and maybe our only chance. It was.
My relationship to sex and abortion has not been noble. It doesn’t prove the case for or against choice, but I am grateful it was an option. My option, my body, in a free country. A guy I was dating recently said I shouldn’t tell people I have had 5 abortions, I suppose he thought it made me look bad. That has made me want to shout it from the roof tops. Hear me roar!