It was 1975…

by Hannah

February 15, 2019

It was 1975…I had just graduated from college the spring of ’74. After a summer of traveling and living in the Southwest, I had come back to New York City in September to live with my mother and look for a job. Four months later, I got a phone call from a guy I had met in college…he was older than me by about six years and was a singer songwriter living in the Village. We had a brief fling my senior year and then he went his way and I went my way. His phone call threw me off…I was in love with him, or rather I was in love with his romantic songs and his image as the troubadour who always ends up with a broken heart. We started seeing each other and he wined and dined me…we always ended up back at his small apartment on West Houston Street. It was lovely and sad all at the same time because I knew he wasn’t looking for a committed relationship and I was. I was young…I knew he would probably break my heart…we became lovers.

It was on one of these cold nights in early March at his place that my birth control failed. In April I found out I was pregnant and I panicked. I was still unemployed, living with my mother who knew nothing about this pregnancy. It was 1975…women in their 20’s were not having children out of wedlock. Not women in my demographic at least…it was unacceptable. Trying to get a job was hard enough let alone as  a single mom and paying for the pre-natal care, delivery and hospital stay. It was just not going to be financially possible for me to carry the baby to term and take care of it properly. My parents were divorced and money was tight for both them let alone for me and a baby. I knew I had to make a decision soon but I wanted to talk it over with the father of the baby. We met at a coffee shop in the Village and I told him. He wasn’t thrilled…he already had a child with another woman who he had gotten pregnant in high school. We agreed I should get an abortion. He said he would pay for it and would meet me at the clinic and be there while I had the abortion. I felt supported and that he cared for me.

I found a clinic near where I lived and had a physical, signed the paper work and made an appointment for three days from then to have the procedure. At the time it cost $200.00 for the abortion…I did not have $200.00. I borrowed money from a college friend to cover it in case singer songwriter man never showed up…something made me think he wasn’t the type to be true to his word. The days leading up to the abortion were emotional. I had been so clinical about it previously I thought it would be no big deal but as the time got closer to having the abortion, I became hesitant and felt guilty, selfish and sad. I hadn’t heard from singer songwriter man since telling him about the pregnancy…the day of the abortion I got up, showered and walked to the clinic. I had a gut feeling that he wasn’t going to show and wasn’t going to help pay for it. I was right. He never showed up and I was alone when I went in and alone when I left. The doctor and the nurses were wonderful and took good care of me and never once made me feel ashamed or passed any judgements. I went home and cried.

He never did call me or meet me or ever explain why he stood me up when I needed him to be there…I went on with my life and got a job and an apartment near West Fourth Street in the Village. I made new friends, met a new man and moved on. About a year and half after the abortion I ran into singer songwriter man on West Fourth Street…I was surprised at how civil and forgiving I was towards him. I did let him know that he had hurt me and that I had to borrow money from a friend. He apologized but I could see he was not really sorry…he seemed to not really care and had no explanation for ditching me. It was at that moment, on West Fourth Street, that I realized I had the power now…I was stronger than him and I had a good heart. He was self absorbed and cared only for himself and his career. We said our goodbyes and I never saw him again. I married the man I was dating at that time and went on to have have three beautiful children that give me great joy…I also have a lively and wonderful grandson. I have never taken my pregnancies for granted and was grateful that I had a home, a husband that loved me and that we were financially able to take care of them.

Fast forward to the 2000’s…I had read an article one day on the 9/11 victims in New York and one name I knew…it was the brother of singer songwriter man. His brother had perished at the World Trade Center. I found an email address and wrote him a note expressing my condolences on his loss. He wrote me back and thanked me for thinking of him and apologized for his callous behavior of many years ago..he had gotten married and had three children from that marriage but was now divorced. He spoke of his love for his kids and sounded defeated in a way that his marriage had fallen apart. I wished him well.

A few years later I was reading the Sunday New York Times and much to my shock I came upon his obituary. He had a sudden illness that took his life very quickly. It took my breath away. Life had come full circle. He was just a memory now as our connection to each other through the pregnancy was also a long ago memory.

When I look back at my abortion and at what life was like in 1975, I feel lucky to have had a choice as to what I wanted to do with my life, my body and my future. I am thankful that abortion was legal and safe at that time and that I was able to make the decision to have it. Things weren’t perfect back then…there was no Me Too movement and glass ceilings hadn’t been broken yet…or at least not many had. Life was improving for women and being able to get safe, legal abortions was a huge step for women. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without it. I learned a lot from that experience…I learned that you can only count on yourself sometimes and you are stronger than you think you are when things go wrong. I am grateful everyday for having had options in 1975 and for having the freedom to make my own choices no matter how painful or difficult they were or could be. I have my own daughter now and want only the best for her and that includes access to safe and legal abortion and the right to make decisions on her own reproductive health. I am hopeful that she and all the other young women in our country never have to resort to illegal and unsafe abortions and will always have the power to make their own decisions on everything that is important to their health and wellbeing.

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