Our Grandmothers Had Abortions
Vice President Pence is marching today in the anti-choice protest in Washington D.C.
I wonder if Pence knows he almost certainly has loved ones who have had abortions.
Would he still love them if he knew? Would he listen to their reasons, to the pros and cons they weighed, to the thoughts with which they wrestled? To why abortion was the best choice for them? To how they felt on the car or bus ride to and from the clinic or hospital?
Does he really believe millions of women worldwide are murderers?
I’ve never had an abortion, but I’m forever grateful to Planned Parenthood and to the morning-after pill. In 1997, my then boyfriend and I had a condom break and I was at PP the next morning. I’ve never wanted children. And while that boyfriend later proposed, I ended the relationship for myriad reasons. If we’d had a child, I’ve no doubt today I’d be a single mom, and a disabled one at that.
He’d just be a guy paying child support.
Women tend to discuss abortion differently when men aren’t in the room.
As such, I’ve heard so many stories from elderly women, some now dead, about abortions they had before Roe v. Wade was legal.
One nearly died from sepsis after the “doctor” (she didn’t know if he was a real physician) used dirty utensils. She was leaving a bad marriage and didn’t want to have a child with that man.
Another threw herself down her family’s long stairwell. She was pregnant with her sixth child and exhausted from tending to the five kids she and her husband already had. She miscarried, but was badly injured.
One was grieving a horrific death in her family and knew she couldn’t raise a baby at that time.
I don’t know if my own grandmothers had abortions.
Here’s what I do know:
My maternal grandmother nearly died giving birth to my aunt. Her doctors concluded she was at high risk for death with any subsequent pregnancies. But this was 1946. So instead of relaying this information to my grandmother, her male doctors told my grandfather. He didn’t tell her until years later. She became very sick after giving birth to my uncle. To the best of my knowledge, it was her fourth pregnancy that left her unable to conceive. She miscarried in the eighth month. He would have been a boy and she was going to name him after her father.
She was 22 years old.
My paternal grandmother died at 26 in Greece under Nazi occupation. She contracted tuberculosis and had to be quarantined. My father’s last memory of his mom: the paramedics dragging her away while she screamed his name. She died in the sanitarium and was buried in a mass grave. She left behind my father and his two brothers, each of whom were treated as orphans under Greek law (at that time a child with a deceased mother was legally orphaned because it was not a father’s legal responsibility to care for his children). My dad and his brothers were given to three different homes. War and famine had laid waste to Greece. Would my grandmother have had children if birth control were an option? If abortion had been available?
I wonder about her last thoughts in the sanitarium, knowing her children would be alone then scattered like seeds.
If I could tell Mike Pence any of these stories, would he listen?
One more tragedy:
We all know the answer.