Speak Truth to Power
The New York Fight
If JANE was not a story about the bad old days of illegal abortion, my own abortion experience was not a story about the good new days of legal abortion. In 1980, when I was a 20-year-old in Montana, I had an abortion that made me very angry.
I went to a doctor a total of 17 times in one year so that my boyfriend and I could have sex without having children. My boyfriend went a total of zero times. (It hardly seemed fair that I was the one who got pregnant!) My boyfriend wouldn't wear a condom to back up my diaphragm. After a three-month, no-sex stand-off, he finally confessed that, at the age of thirty, he had never used a condom and didn't know how to put one on. Besides, he said, my insistence that he share the responsibility forbirth control was really just a masked attempt to castrate him symbolically. I finally got on and then off the Pill, got one IUD (which came out), another IUD (which came out), and a third IUD, which left me pregnant.
My boyfriend had one "illegitimate" child he would not support or even see—but he still resented my making the abortion decision without consulting him. He believed that, as a relatively liberal man (for Montana), he had a right to participate in my decision. He even told friends that "we" were pregnant and that "we" were having an abortion. During the procedure, I kept wondering why, if "we" were having an abortion, I was up on the table (as usual) with my legs in the air, and he was out in the waiting room (for the first time!) with his legs safely crossed! Dealing with birth control and boyfriends made me pretty angry.
Dealing with my doctor also made me angry. I lived in a small town. There was only one doctor within 200 miles who would do abortions. He was very busy, and so he had a colleague put in the laminaria—the little stick of absorbent material that goes into the cervix the day before