The dictionary defines regret as a sense of loss, disappointment or dissatisfaction.
Born November 1941, 18 months into the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, my mother’s obstetrician had urged her to have an abortion. “It would be immoral,” he told her, “to bring another Jewish life into the world.”
“I am pregnant!” And I immediately knew that I would not have this baby. It was a matter-of-fact decision, and I did not struggle with it.
My cisgender male partner of seven years and I had sex, and the condom we were using for safer sex and birth control broke.
It was 1964 in Southern California. I was 23, in a committed relationship, and even though I was using birth control, I found myself pregnant.
Abortion counseling was a felony in the state of Florida in 1969. I got in touch with a liberal Jewish attorney who was willing to work with my friend the Episcopal priest and me and was prepared to support us if and when we got into trouble.
We never spoke about it again, until that day in the hospital. She explained to me then that her fury had been rooted in her terror for my well-being. In fact, I was able to access abortion services at a local Planned Parenthood clinic in New York City and pay for it based on the clinic’s sliding scale fees. While I deeply wished that my contraceptive device hadn’t failed all those years ago, I was fortunate enough to have the ability to make my own decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, to afford safe medical care and continue with my life plans.
What should I do? What should I do? What should I do? Those four words went around in my head in the spring of 1973. I was 28 years old, wife, mother of two sons and I was pregnant. Being an only child, my dream was having a house full of kids with all the commotion that goes with raising a big family. At that time, my children were ages seven and four and I really, really wanted a daughter to begin to even out the sexes in my family dynamic.
Inspired by the moving teen abortion tale of 1960s Chicago readers wrote in to tell us how the story resonated with their own experiences.
I am 56 years old, a wife, mother and soon-to-be grandmother. I’ve just retired from a joyful career as a teacher’s assistant in an elementary school in Georgia. This wonderful life of mine was made possible by two abortions in my teens.