Clara C
I AM a Pro-Choice Woman

I do not remember when I was NOT a Pro-Choice woman. I was an early subscriber to Ms. magazine. I read articles which supported that belief.

Sometime in the 1980s, the daughter of a family friend in Indiana died of an illegal abortion. Becky Bell was sick, and her parents took her to the hospital. After they admitted her, they went to get lunch. When they returned, Becky was dead. An autopsy revealed that she had had an illegal abortion. Indiana had a law that parents had to give consent for an underage teen to have an abortion. Becky didn’t want to tell her parents.

Our daughter, Karen, was in high school. She was very moved by this death. It confirmed my feeling that abortions should be safe and legal. Two times, Karen and I drove to Washington D.C. to participate in Pro-Choice rallies. There was a display by the Washington Monument in memory of Becky Bell. Her brother spoke at the rally. I remember throwing tennis balls over the fence at the White House. “Free Barbara Bush” was written on each ball.

One of my nieces was in college when she discovered that she was pregnant. She called my daughter, Karen, to share her fears and anxiety. Karen told me, and I called my niece. We both looked at our phone books. She read ads from different groups which supported pregnant women. We talked about the messages from each one. We finally identified one which would be supportive of a woman who needed an abortion. She called, and it was the right group. I sent money, and she was able to have a safe and legal abortion.

Later, another one of my nieces went to Nebraska for an abortion. She and her husband were very excited about her pregnancy, but at the beginning of the third trimester, a test showed that the fetus’s skull was not developing. He would not live after birth. New York, where they lived, did not allow abortions during the third trimester. What emotional pain! And so, she went to Nebraska. There were family members who were critical of my niece’s decision to abort the pregnancy. They felt she should carry this deformed fetus to term. That would have added more pain to an already very difficult situation.

As many readers may know, I was a kindergarten teacher in Springfield for 30 years. I have been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for 13 years. In those two roles, I have seen a number of children who were abused and/or neglected, whose lives were beyond a nightmare. They should never have lived. Would their mothers have had an abortion if it had been available? I will never know. I just know that I wish that kind of emotional and physical pain on no one, especially little children.

And so, I remain a proud feminist who believes that abortion should be safe and legal to all women. Amen and amen.