Roe vs. Wade: a Midwife's Memories
Updated: Jun 26
The Supreme Court decision this week has brought up a lot of memories. I have many stories, because I spent most of my professional life caring for women of every creed and color, socioeconomic status, and age. I deeply respect women, for we are strong, resilient, and nurturing.
Many years ago, I knew a woman. She had two beautiful sons, that were her life. For a few years, she was happy, because she married young and was naïve about the world and the evil in it. As time passed, she began to gain understanding about life and began to question things her husband was telling her. He didn’t like that—at all.
When she dared to question him, he became physically abusive. He began to accuse her of cheating on him, though she had never even thought of such a thing. You see, he was her high-school sweetheart and she loved him before if all came unraveled.
The abuse became worse and worse. To make it even worse, her husband was a cop, who brutalized her, making her fearful to leave him. He would laugh and say that he would bring her to her knees and never leave a bruise (and he did) so cops would never believe her if she called them.
Her oldest son was afraid to go out and play because (she later learned) that he thought if he stayed in the house, he could “stop Daddy from hurting Mom.” She was trapped, frightened, and unsure how to get out of this situation. This pathetic excuse of a man was a serial adulterer, who had said during her first pregnancy that he didn’t want “a kid.” Yet, she did-- very much.
During this time, being accused of adultery, when it had never crossed her mind, she began to change. At some point, she thought “if I am being punished for adultery, that I never committed or even thought of committing, I might as well make it all worth it.”
So, she did a very stupid thing. She went out with a girlfriend one night. She met an airline pilot for a British airline. He was handsome, kind, and funny. He made her laugh, truly laugh, for the first time in many months. I’m sure you can guess what happened.
All too soon, she began to suspect she was pregnant. One night. One mistake. Despite the circumstances, she wanted this child. She had always wanted a large family because she loved children. Yet, what could she do? If she stayed with her husband, he would know it was not his (he’d had a vasectomy), and would likely torment this little one for just existing. She knew his fondness for cruelty. No child deserved that.
So, she began to think about other options. She didn’t have a formal education and her closest family was twelve hours away by automobile. Her parents were elderly and lived in a small, single-wide mobile home in another state hallway across the country. They lived on Social Security. How could she pile in on top of them with, soon to be, three children, no job, no money, and no education? They had worked hard all their lives and didn’t deserve that. She couldn’t afford to support a family of four on an unskilled job’s wages.
So, as she was trying to figure out what to do, this “man” began accusing her of being pregnant. She denied it, fearing his rage. It didn’t stop him. He beat her in her lower abdomen, telling her he would beat this “bastard” out of her belly. She tried to shield herself from the blows, but he landed several hard ones in her lower abdomen.
She was terrified. If this continued, he would cause her to miscarry. Or worse. He could cause her to hemorrhage and die, leaving her sons motherless. She felt so very alone and isolated.
So, with few real choices, she made the hardest decision of her life. She decided to get an abortion. Not because she wanted one. No woman truly wants to get an abortion. It’s a gut-wrenching decision.
With the help of some family members, she got the money together and had an abortion. On the day of the procedure, she drove herself to the clinic. She was alone for the procedure. She was heartbroken. She drove herself home, alone, aching, and feeling empty. All she could think of was the welfare of her two beautiful boys waiting for her at home. They needed her and she would do anything to protect them.
I know this woman very well. She still thinks of that pregnancy. How would it look? Was it a boy or a girl? What would it have become if life had offered its mother options to raise it, love it, and nurture it to its greatest potential?
Every woman I have ever known who has had to make that god-awful decision, never truly gets over a no-win decision. They feel crushing guilt, sadness, and loss. They grieve that loss on some level the rest of their lives. Yet, the majority look back and know, at least at that moment in their lives, it was the right decision, given their choices.
I just want anyone reading this to know one thing. No one, and I mean no one is pro-abortion. NO ONE! However, no other human has the right to tell a woman what choice she must make when the most difficult decision she must ever make is facing her. That is why Roe vs. Wade was enacted in this country. It was to give a choice to women in an untenable situation. Men don’t have to deal with it. They just go about their lives, virtually unscathed.
I’ve cared for women who (by choice) gave birth to babies with genetic disorders incompatible with life, that died within a couple of hours after birth. I’ve cared for women who could not face nine months of knowing their baby would be born and die in hours, so they terminated those pregnancies. I have cared for a 14-year old, whose blood pressure was stroke level at 24 weeks gestation and no drug in our arsenal would bring it down. If the pregnancy continued, she was going to die. No question. I have delivered a 12-year-old who was hugging her teddy bear and crying for her “mommy” while she was in labor.
Any of these women could be tomorrow’s woman, sister, daughter, niece, friend, neighbor. They deserve a choice. All of them. Their choice, not anyone else's.
If you are reading this, I beg you to write or call your representatives and demand abortion rights be codified in your state. March, write letters, and yes, stop having sex with any man that does not agree with a woman’s right to a choice. And, if you are not ready to have a child, you might want to start using more than one form of birth control. One in 500 sterilizations fail, whether a vasectomy or tubal ligation. No method of birth control is perfect.
This is where we, as women, find ourselves on this day in the United States. We have gone backwards over 50 years and the Supreme Court is poised to roll back basic human rights even more. I am truly afraid for the future of this country. I no longer recognize it.
Just know this, if you are a woman, you are not alone. You are part of a powerful, fierce, caring sisterhood. We will fight, defend, and help you to do whatever you have to do to have a choice. You are never alone, Dear Sister. Ever.