Issue 18 / Summer 2019 / Abortion Ban Protest Special Issue
My story may be more typical than I know. I was a teenager in the middle of a bitter divorce. I lived with one parent but terribly missed the other. I couldn’t have been unhappier. I rebelled, leaving home instead of going to school one day. I walked to my boyfriend’s house and told him we needed to leave. I wanted independence. He was willing. I was 16. He was 19. What felt like a solution unfolded into much bigger problems than I’d known at home.
We got married. My mother signed for me. She felt it was better than shacking up to avoid my life at home. Nine months later, I was pregnant. I gave birth to a beautiful daughter in 1965. She was a light in my otherwise dark existence. My husband didn’t work, just drank. We had to move frequently as we could not pay for our weekly rent. We had no car. His anger at his own family and the world was increasingly directed at me. If he drank too much, I could count on becoming a target of his rage. He was abusive, taking his “rights” when and where he wanted. He stayed up all night and slept all day.
When my daughter was about three years old, my husband’s abuse was becoming a growing concern. My daughter could see what was happening. She and I left with the clothes on our backs, but I soon found I was eight weeks pregnant. I needed to work, I needed to support us. I had few skills and was not yet 20 years old. We were safe but destitute.
With help from a friend of a friend, I had a procedure done by an amateur in someone’s home. I was scared. Could I trust this person? I was blindfolded so that I could not see the identity of the person doing the procedure. It was 1968. It meant the world to me not to have another child with this man who would never care for or help to support us. A week later, the procedure produced excessive bleeding. I went to a real doctor and feigned a miscarriage. I lost so much blood I almost died. I spent a week in bed sleeping around the clock but thankfully recovered no longer pregnant. What that doctor knew or suspected I don’t know.
Years later, I met a good man. We had three children together and he adopted my daughter. Everything turned out well for me. I felt I had a second chance to make better decisions. I wasn’t forced to have a child I couldn’t afford, didn’t want, and couldn’t avoid. My life would not have had the opportunity and positive outcome bestowed upon me if my right had been denied. I got a GED, then a bachelor’s degree, and even completed half of a master’s program. I worked and succeeded. I had opportunities.
The states that have taken a hard stand against women’s rights may be confusing their own religious beliefs with that of the constitution. In this country, the two are separate and do not impose upon one another. But we seem to be taking several steps backwards during this Republican presidency and touted ideals of late.
Stand up, America. Realize that our laws and our privileges and our rights are on the line during this very tense time. I never thought we would have to fight these fights over again, but here we are.
Claire Curry is a retired Human Resources Executive. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Communication from Concordia University. She was also awarded a Human Resource Management Certificate from Marquette University. She spends her retirement in Florida with her husband, golfing, doing consulting work and writing.