I was lucky. It was a good time to have an abortion. It was 1972, pre-Roe v Wade. California passed an abortion law in 1967. Many doctors were still afraid to do them. However, Drs Edward Titcher and Julius Lieberman of Encino, CA took on the challenge. I worked for them in 1970-71. We had patients from all over LA. We got referrals from the Clergy Counseling Center and from the Los Angeles Free Clinic. While these doctors continued to provide full OB/GYN services, the majority of our pregnant patients had come for an abortion. We didn't have to deal with the crazies picketing outside of our office. It was a several story medical office building. They either didn't know we existed or they weren't organized yet. Our patients had their procedures done in a hospital under general anesthetic. Most of them had MediCal (CA Medicaid), obtained specifically for their abortion. I never knew for sure, but I assumed the CA legislature decided it was cheaper to pay for an abortion than to pay for raising a child for eighteen years. It was a good time to have an abortion. Most of the women didn't realize how fortunate they were. They didn't know that they had come to an office full of welcoming people; people ready to make this journey as easy as possible for them. Following the doctors' lead, we offered them understanding and comfort and normalcy. The doctors stressed how important this was, as many came to us in great turmoil. And timing was important as well. California law didn't permit abortion after the 20th week.
I remember receiving a call from a woman who was 18 weeks into her pregnancy. She was very tentative, as she wasn't sure the man who impregnated her would continue to be a part of her life. She didn't want to have a baby without him. When she called, she was pretty sure he wouldn't stay. She made an appointment which she cancelled a few days later when it appeared that her significant other had decided to stick around. Then things changed again and she called back to reschedule. California law required that each woman see two shrinks prior to the doctors taking their cases before a hospital board for approval. It was pretty automatic. I don't recall any cases being declined. But it took time. This woman was out of time. This was a very long time ago, and I can still feel her anguish.
I came to tell you my story, which I will below the pretty orange squiggly.
In March of 1972 I moved to New Mexico to be close to the man who had lived next-door to me in my apartment in Van Nuys. I was 26 and in love and that seemed like the right thing to do. An adventure! Our relationship was short-lived, but long enough to become pregnant. I was a very young 26 year old. Way too immature to take on the responsibility of a child. And I knew exactly what I had to do to have an abortion. So it was an easy decision. No questioning of myself. No turmoil. Not different from the ganglion I had removed from my wrist. There was something in my body that didn't need to be there, so it needed to be taken out. Simple.
This pregnancy, unlike the one that produced my daughter, was a crappy one. I didn't exactly have morning sickness, but I was nauseous, and extremely tired. I could hardly lift my legs to walk. Hormonal changes---yuck.
I told the doctor I worked for that I needed to go to California to have an abortion and I'd be back as soon as I could. I flew to Los Angeles. I applied for MediCal. I went to see Dr. Lieberman. I went to see two shrinks. And I checked into the hospital. I was in a room with two other women who were also having abortions. This hospital kindly didn't put us on the maternity floor. The other women were very upset about having their abortions. One woman had 4 or 5 children and she and her husband had decided that they just couldn't afford to have any more. Her husband must have been the more adamant of the two, because this woman was really suffering. I don't remember the other woman's story, but it was equally heart-breaking. I don't even remember if I told them my story, but I know I was careful not to show how I felt about abortions.
The next morning they came to wheel me down to the OR. I remember little after that, as they had given me something by mouth to prepare me for the anesthetic. As soon as I was returned to my room, I was discharged. I felt great. No more nausea. No more exhaustion. I felt like myself again. Finally.
If this diary appears clinical to you, know that it was purposeful. Abortion is a procedure; a D & C (dilatation and curettage) in my case. The doctor dilates the cervix allowing access to the uterus, and then uses a curet (knife) to scrape the products of conception from the wall of the uterus. That's it. All the rest is unnecessary drama.
I was lucky. It was a good time to have an abortion.