What Roe Meant to Angela

In honor of the 38th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, we’re sharing stories from our supporters of what Roe has meant to them. Want to share your story? Leave it in the comments below or email us. You can read the whole series here.

“Although I am now the mother of two wonderful adult children, I also am a lucky survivor of an illegal abortion done in a back woods shack in 1969 in Birmingham, Alabama.

As an 18 year old, I was too scared to tell my parents I was pregnant. I found a “doctor” in Birmingham from the nurse at my job in Miami. I raised cash from friends and flew to Birmingham where the “doctor” refused to perform a safe abortion but instead referred me to a local woman. The details are the stuff of dreadful nightmares: she picked me up in her Cadillac and took me to a shack in the woods where there was a bare lightbulb hanging, and dogs in the shack. She inserted a hose inside of me and packed it in with cotton, and drove me back to Birmingham where I had a room at YWCA. I flew back to Talahasse the next day and started to hemorrhage. Friends took me to the hospital, but they wouldn’t admit me without my mom’s consent. I had to have a friend say she was my mom, and when I got to hospital police were there kept asking who did this to you. I was terrified I’d to go to jail, but I survived, it’s a miracle, and went on to have these wonderful kids.

Unsafe abortions can be fatal! My husband is a neurologist, and during his internship at Bellevue Hospital in NYC he saw too many women arrive in the same condition I was in, but too late to save. Please don’t let us return to the dark ages of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.”

— Angela, 58

Want to share your story? Leave it in the comments below or email us.

One Comment

  1. barbaraglickstein
    Posted January 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    In the late 1970s I worked as a medical assistant at the Bill Baird Center in Hempstead, NY. Roe v Wade had passed but in addition to the local women who sought reproductive health services there were women who arrived from out of state who couldn’t find a local practitioner to terminate their pregnancy. The Center even provided transportation for them to and from the airport. On February 15, 1979, the clinic was firebombed. Fifty people, over half of them patients, were inside at the time. Peter Burkin, a twenty-one-year-old who had picketed the week before, burst into the waiting room armed with a flaming two-foot torch in one hand and a gallon of gasoline in the other. While a clinic doctor completed an abortion, Burkin threw the gasoline and the torch. It was only because the staff had been trained for just such an attack that they and all the patients were able to escape in time. And within minutes after the bombing, staffers also helped secure Burkin’s capture. Burkin, charged with attempted murder and arson, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent four months in a mental hospital before being released. I wasn’t at the clinic when it happened but arrived for my shift to discover the clinic burning to the ground and staff, patients and community in shock and in tears. Every January 22year, reminds us to continue to advocate for every woman’s access to safe and affordable reproductive rights.
    Barbara Glickstein, RN, MPH, MS
    Center for Health, Media & Policy

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