I was between my freshman & sophomore years of college...


"I was between my freshman & sophomore years of college when a condom broke and I found myself pregnant. My boyfriend was a year older and also in college. We were very much in love, but not remotely ready, emotionally or financially, to raise a child. Nor was I willing for a moment to consider bringing a child to term just to relinquish the tiny thing for adoption; the thought of giving up a baby was absolutely unacceptable.

Together, my boyfriend and I made the best decision for all involved. We went to Planned Parenthood (where we had gotten the contraceptives) and they helped arrange a therapeutic abortion in San Francisco. (Amusing sidebar – it was on the top floor of an Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic!) My boyfriend drove me there and back. It was only later that I realized how lucky we were to have that choice: the Supreme Court had just ruled on Roe v. Wade in January of 1973 and this was September. Afterward, Planned Parenthood was firm about asking what contraceptive method I would be using in the future to prevent unwanted pregnancy and I went on the pill.

Because I wasn’t quite ready to return to school that fall and because my grandmother was caring for my bed-ridden grandfather and had been hospitalized herself, I chose to take the semester off and move to Washington State to be with them. My Grandma and I became even closer than we had been and she shared with me that after my mother (her youngest) had been born in 1934, she got pregnant again and decided she didn’t want another child on a poor farm in the midst of the Depression. She sought an illegal abortion which luckily had no complications. (My mother had only had hints of this due to some ranting on the part of my Grandpa when he’d been drinking.) Grandma was a no-nonsense Swedish farm girl from Minnesota who was grateful to end of her days for her family and her faith and her life and I’ve always been proud to be her granddaughter.

I shared the fact that she’d had an abortion on Facebook in a birthday tribute this year and I don’t think anyone was terribly shocked, knowing Grandma, but there were those who hadn’t known. It’s time to break the silence. As for me, in the event, I chose not to have children at all; I suffer from mental illness and would have been completely overwhelmed by such a responsibility. I never regretted my choice and, in fact, have always been grateful. Every woman deserves the right to decide what happens with her own body. Thank you for the chance to tell my story." —Wendy Howard-Benham

#doesnotwantchildren #notready #preRoe

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