It was 1980 I was a senior in high school and I had just turned 18, my girlfriend was a senior too, but still 17. She was captain of the Cheer Leaders, and we had been dating for a year and having sex for about 6 months. My boyfriend was 26 and a teacher in another city. We had been dating for about 3 months. Both knew about each other but had never met. I remember the day clearly, it was 6 weeks till graduation, and I got a note from her saying she needed to talk with me ASAP. When I met with her I could see the fear in her eyes, her eyes were red from crying. She was distraught. My girlfriend came from an Italian family that was very religious and closely connected to several organized crime figures. By that I mean her Uncle had a picture of him with “Al-fucking-Capone” on the wall prominently displayed. Which meant that contraception for her was not an option. So, when she told me that she was pregnant. I instantly started to freak out, but I kept it all inside and hidden from her. Instead, I recognized that she needed my support, she needed me to be strong for her. Of course inside my head I was thinking Holy Shit I am about to get “disappeared” or “married”. I knew this was my fault for failing to control myself. But until that moment I had not realized that the consequences were way beyond normal, given who her family was. I managed to keep my composure and I did my best to comfort her and assure her that everything was going to be okay, and I tried not to let my fear show.
We both had plans for our lives, and those plans did not include children, we had never even discussed that possibility. As a matter of fact, we had already planned an end date for our relationship, because our lives were going in different directions and we were being practical about things. We decided to cut class for the first time ever and leave school to go somewhere where we could talk. We were both “A” students and we knew that there wouldn’t be any consequences for missing a class or two, especially in our last year. We went to a park near our school and sat down on a park bench. I thought the best thing to do was to get her to tell me what she wanted to do, but I did not want to be insensitive and ask that question right off the bat. So, instead I asked her what her biggest fear was. I remember how unexpected it was to that her fear was not about what her family was going to do to her or me, but what having to have a child was going to do to her chances of escaping her family and being able to attend a good college. I asked her how important that was for her, and I already knew the answer. She said it was all she wanted to do. She was tired of all the “old world” restrictions, and ways of doing things, and to my surprise she then offered up what I was hoping to hear and said she did not want to be pregnant. In some ways that was a relief, but in others it was a possible death sentence for me. If her family found out that I got her pregnant and that she had an abortion, there would be no marriage, I would simply disappear and I knew that. So, we had to proceed very carefully. I told her that I would look into what needed to be done and how to do “It”, and asked for her permission to talk to my boyfriend about it, and she gave me the okay. We had both calmed down, we held each other for about an hour, and then we went back to class and finished our day at school.
After school she had to go to cheer practice and I immediately called my boyfriend and left a message for him to call me ASAP. I was not allowed to call him at his work, so I had to wait till later that evening to hear from him. When he called I immediately broke down, I was scared, I had no idea what to do, where to go, how much it was going to cost, how to schedule an appointment, or how far away we had to go to do this. I was afraid others were going to find out. I was afraid her family was going to kill me. I was afraid of what if she changes her mind. I was shaking, it was the most difficult situation I had been in and I felt like I had no control over what was happening. I had plans for my life and all I could think of was I may not live to be 21.
Thankfully, my boyfriend was more mature, had experience with helping his sister get an abortion and knew exactly what to do. He reassured me that everything was going to be okay, and that we could do this without anyone finding out. This was before the chemical abortions were available so a medical procedure had to be done, and it would take a day for her to recover. She had to have a ride to and from the clinic, and the cost at the time was $360. I only had about $300 in the bank. So he said he would loan me the rest and we started to make plans. Thankfully, my girlfriend was turning 18 in just four days. Otherwise it would have been a nightmare because at the time you had to have a parent or guardian give consent if you were under 18. After talking for about two hours I was calm, collected and ready to call my girlfriend. I was able to get her on the phone and I told her I was coming over to take her out for desert. I was a romantic and her family liked that I did things like that so it seemed normal to them.
We got in the car and drove to a park and I told her everything I had learned. I asked her if she was sure that an abortion was what she wanted and she replied with a resounding yes. So, we agreed to schedule the first appointment as soon as possible since we had no idea of how far along she was, since we had been having sex at least once a week for the past several months, and there were several times when we did not have a condom. We had to enlist the help of one of her friends that would cover for us, we told her friend that we wanted to spend the night in a hotel and have sex, and that we were telling her parents that she was staying overnight at her friends place. She agreed to cover for us.
The plan came together and everything turned out well, and thankfully she never regretted having the abortion, and her family never found out. We kept dating until our planned separation but we used a condom every time we had sex, and since she was 18 now she was able to get on birth control without her parents knowing. She went to college, got her degree, got a great job, married a good man, and now has three kids. My boyfriend and I dated up until I left for California. I never had another pregnancy scare. I was able to fulfill my life’s dreams and I am so happy that I did not have to get married, or disappear when I was 18. I am now married and while we would love to have a kid, the biology for that just doesn’t work.
Now that I am older, when I look back at that situation, I am so grateful that abortion was an option. Unfortunately, in Ohio where I grew up, abortion is now essentially illegal. I can’t believe that some poor kid in Ohio is now going thru a worse situation that I had to go thru when I was 18. But that is exactly what is happening. How different my life would have been, if I even had a life had her family found out.
My story is not unique. There are hundreds of stories of kids my age that had to go thru that. Those kids are now adults that vote, and in Ohio, they are not going to be voting for the party that wants to keep abortion essentially illegal in Ohio. I foresee a Blue Tsunami in Ohio, and I can’t wait to see it happen.