My story

by Anonymous

May 3, 2019

Content Warning: physical & emotional abuse

My story starts when I got married in 1967, at a young 20 years of age.  Even then, I knew I wanted to have children.

I had known my new husband for about two years.  My family knew him and liked him.  I thought I knew him well, but on the evening of our honeymoon, our first day of marriage, his mean, uncontrollable temper surfaced.

I stayed married to him for almost seven years, thinking that I could help him, talk to him about what triggered his ugly anger and what we could do to make our marriage better.  I had grown up in a loving and supportive family, with no physical discipline whatsoever, so this troubled marriage was totally new territory for me.  I’d wait until his anger had passed, until physical hurt from his slaps to my face and other unthinkable incidences of physical abuse had somewhat faded, and then I’d try to talk to him about his latest outburst and physical assault.

But he always denied having hit me, choked me or abused me.  I tried every approach I could think of to get him to see a counselor – either by himself or together with me.  He always refused.  I saw a counselor myself and tried to deal with the emotional abuse, which was actually worse than the physical abuse.

All that time I took birth control pills and tried to be a good wife.  I really believed the marriage vows I had said and kept trying to find a way – somehow – that would cause his outbursts to stop and for our marriage to work.

All the while I knew I couldn’t bring a child into that troubled marriage.  I was truly afraid that he would be abusive to a child as well.

Finally, after six years of a troubled marriage, in 1973,  I made the difficult decision to leave my abusive husband and get a divorce.  We separated.  I stopped taking birth control pills because I had been struggling with depression, and my doctor thought the birth control pills might be contributing to these mood changes.  Certainly the unfortunate circumstances of my marriage were also contributing factors.

But my husband didn’t want a divorce.   He did everything he could think of to change my mind.  Finally, and unfortunately, I agreed to give our marriage another try.  I resumed taking birth control pills but didn’t realize I should have used a second form of birth control until after I had completed a full cycle of pills.  I got pregnant in spite of my best intentions.

When I missed a period, I immediately had a pregnancy test.  I can remember going to my doctor’s office the next day to get the results.  He said, “Congratulations, Gayle – you’re pregnant!”  I immediately started crying, and he knew something was amiss.  I told him about my circumstances.  He informed me that abortion was legal in Oregon (where I lived at the time), and that it was a safe procedure and would be a simple procedure for me because I was so early in my pregnancy.  My emotions were somewhat jumbled because I so wanted to have children, but I knew immediately that the responsible choice was to  have an abortion as soon as possible.  I was clear about my choice and didn’t have any qualms or second thoughts or misgivings.


I felt I had to tell my husband, and he didn’t want me to have the abortion.  I was adamant, though.  I believed it was my body and my decision to make.   I didn’t tell anyone else then, not even my loving family.


I don’t remember much about the actual procedure.  I just remember it was quick and final, the doctor and his staff were very supportive, there were no side effects, and I felt very grateful to live in a state that allowed safe, legal abortions.

Soon thereafter my husband and I moved back to California, where we had grown up.  We separated again, and I filed for divorce.  California had what was known as the “Do It Yourself Divorce”, and I was able to fill out the paper work and appear before a judge without having to hire an attorney.  Except for the emotional toll, the divorce was also quick and final.  I had the unwavering support of my loving family, and since my ex-husband and I had no children to bind us together, I have experienced the freedom of never having any further contact with my ex-husband.  I only hope he somehow conquered his “demons” and has managed to live a happy life.

I’ve never had any regrets.  Some women who have abortions for various very personal reasons later wonder about the child that might have been.  I have not.  In my mind, the abortion removed a fertilized egg from my body.  There was the potential for a child, but I terminated the pregnancy long before that point.  I knew I deserved to live a life free from abuse and that I wanted to raise the children I would later bear in a loving, nurturing environment.

About a year and half later, in 1976, I married an emotionally stable, supportive man who wanted to have a family as much as I did.  Before we married, I told him about my abortion.  He saw it as a wise decision.

Neither before or after my abortion had I known another woman who had herself had an abortion.  But my new mother-in-law shared her story with me.  In 1965 she was President of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut when the Griswold decision to legalize contraception in the US was reached by the Supreme Court, and she was on the National Board of Planned Parenthood in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided.  She shared with me, as she had shared with many other women young and old, her harrowing story of two truly “back-street”, illegal abortions she endured.  Her story was sadly very different from mine.

I now have three remarkable grown children and four precious grandchildren.  I am 72 years old and have been married for 43 years to the father of my children.

Needless-to-say, I am totally pro-choice, and I remain at peace with my decision to have an abortion.


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