The letters page of The New York Times is almost always dominated by confident male voices. Women — why? — rarely take up more space in this coveted bit of real estate. This letter today, from a woman who had her abortion on a veterinarian’s table in 1962, left me wanting to cry, and to share it more widely:
“A Pregnant Pause” (Week in Review, Nov. 29) gives an incredibly accurate picture of the generation gap on abortion rights, one that I had trouble understanding until I read your article.
I am nearing 70. In 1962, as a married lady of 20 with one more year of college to go for my degree, our birth control failed. I was pregnant. We were frantic. My husband and I were barely surviving financially, and we were struggling to support ourselves. If we could have supported a child, we would not have been using birth control.
We had a friend, a veterinarian, who offered to help us. I climbed onto the dog table, weeping, my husband holding my hand. After the procedure I hemorrhaged and we rushed to the emergency room. I told them the story, just leaving out how the hemorrhaging started, and they classified it as a “spontaneous abortion.”
Our lives went on, we’re still happily married, and we have two successful adult children. But as I watch the assault on reproductive rights, my heart is still filled with dread, and my memory returns to that morning on the dog table.
I hope no young woman ever has to handle her reproductive choice as I was forced to. They can make any law they want to make, but they can never make a woman have a baby. We will do what we have to do, and for today’s young, access to abortion must remain safe, affordable and legal.
Anaheim Hills, Calif., Nov. 29, 2009