She was an 18-year-old up-and-coming actress and model when the drug-store purchased pregnancy test confirmed her worst fears. He was much older and married and offered to pay for her abortion. She didn’t want one – she knew life was growing inside her.
After three weeks of living with the secret and the dread of uncertainty, she finally told her father in the hopes of receiving comfort and life-affirming counsel. But he was worried more about the family’s reputation, social standing, and prestige than his grandchild. Three days later, without ever telling any other member of the family, he drove her to an abortion center, and the deed was done.
Not all legal abortions are safe. The bleeding and the pain didn’t ebb or stop and she was admitted to hospital for another procedure. Doctors had to remove the shreds of baby the abortionist left inside her. Her uterus was scarred, she also lost an ovary and Fallopian tube as a result of the botched abortion. She would probably never carry a child term.
On the day she lost her baby, she also lost herself. Rum and cocaine became her preferred way to numb the pain. By the time she was 23 she had been in and out of rehab, her career was over, and her parents decided to send her across the country for a new start.
She met a man who had no patience for drug or alcohol. She sobered up and they married – within a year she was pregnant and with much care and bed rest she had a very healthy daughter. But all was not well.
During her pregnancy obsessed about miscarriage because she was sure God would take this child as payment for the first. When they brought the baby home, she placed, first the bassinet then the crib up against her side of the bed and slept with her hand on the baby’s back to make she breathed all note. For years she wore only dark, black, brown clothing because she just knew that any day God would take this child as payment for the first.
Every cold, every flu, every rash, every hiccup was, to her, the beginning of her daughter’s demise. She lived this way for nine years and then she could cope no more.
Drinking and the scourge of drugs worked their way back into her life. She abandoned her family and moved away. Several years passed without her contacting her daughter, and the number of ex-husbands increased.
Her daughter was raised by her father, a well-adjusted young woman but deeply scarred by her absent mother. When her mother did return, it was with husband number five, eight years had passed, and the mother was attempting to reconnect and have a normal life.
It didn’t last. Within a few years and while the daughter was away at college, she had a complete nervous breakdown and was abandoned by husband number 5. She spent two years in a rehabilitation home where she received brilliant psychiatric care – but the pain from the abortion was/is still there – just underneath the surface.
Today her once great beauty is faded; she’s been clean and sober for six years, but the scars are there for all to see. She has good days and bad days; her eyes often wonder into the horizon, and I don’t dare ask what she’s thinking. Her family has abandoned her, and my parents have been kind enough to let her live with them. Her grandsons, my grandsons, are her joy now. They help fill the empty shell of the woman she was and might have been. Abortion didn’t just take her child, it took her life. One dead – one wounded.
I march for her. I march for her baby. I march for my daughter.