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Abortion Dilemma: Which Way Should America Go?

February 19, 1989

The ongoing debate between pro-choice and pro-life advocates has prompted me to go public. I am pro-choice. I staunchly support Roe vs. Wade because I do not want to see this country move backward, subjecting women again to the mental and physical dangers of the back-alley experience. It would be inhuman and inhumane--women have died because of back-alley fishhook and wire hanger abortions.

I know firsthand what that's like. As a naive and frightened teen-ager who, in 1966, became pregnant by one mistake (and not my mistake alone), I was going to be sent away from my family. I didn't get into this trouble by myself, but here I was, going through banishment and punishment alone--and the nightmare had only just begun.

Along came a prince who told me that he would take care of me and my baby. After we were married, however, the prince decided he couldn't live with the pregnancy, so he took me to Mexico where we lost $400 buying "abortion medicine" that turned out to be just estrogen. He then located, through underground contacts, a person who would find someone to help. We drove to a prearranged meeting place in Los Angeles and met this man who would not allow my husband to come along.

In the dead of night, this stranger drove me to a house in the slums, told me to walk alone up to the door and knock, cash in hand. The lady of the house led me into a dirty back room, where she told me to lie on the floor, naked from the waist down, on a blood-stained bed sheet. She placed a hollow, red rubber tube onto a straightened-out wire hanger and inserted it, without the benefit of painkillers or sterilization techniques, into my uterus.

The wire hanger was then pulled out, leaving the hollow tube inside. The tube remained in my body for several days, allowing air to enter from the end outside of my body and up into my uterus.

Alone I endured the excruciating contraction pains, speaking only on the telephone with a nurse who told me to dig the fetus sack out of the toilet and bring it into the hospital. After everything I had already been through, I was then segregated and ignored by the hospital staff, who knew that I had broken the law and had an illegal abortion.

Shortly after my ordeal, I heard that the lady who helped me was arrested because another young woman wasn't as fortunate as I and had become seriously infected. Her family pressed charges.

I no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant, and if Roe vs. Wade is reversed it will not affect me personally. However, reversing Roe vs. Wade will force other women to experience similar mental and physical abuse that can maim and kill them. We won't go back. We can't go back--that would be unfair, dangerous and force women (especially those who cannot afford--financially and/or emotionally--to support a child and raise it to become a solid citizen) to become lawbreakers. Roe vs. Wade must be left standing, please!

S.L. DAVIS

Fullerton

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