Oral History: It was 1996 and I lived near my hometown in Los Angeles County, California

Preview photo by Hayley Sperling.

Tone Madison is publishing oral histories related to abortion, miscarriage, birth control, and reproductive health from people in the Madison area. Read more about this project and find information about sharing your story. We are also publishing brief messages of support for storytellers.

We ask that these stories are not reprinted in other outlets.


Below is a verbatim account from anonymous:

It was 1996 and I lived near my hometown in Los Angeles County, California. I was out on my own for the first time (having lived with a roommate before) and dating a guy who never seemed to be able to hold a job. I was young, foolish, and naive. I’d been on birth control since I was 17, but a job change left me without a prescription for a few months and I took the chance. I realized even before I missed my period that I was pregnant… swollen, painful breasts, constant nausea, and grinding fatigue were with me within what could have only been a week or so after conception. But I denied it. I ignored it. I put it out of my mind. But then one day at work I threw up in the elevator on my way back from lunch and I knew I couldn’t keep lying to myself. Back in those days, we used the Yellow Pages… and a clinic was listed less than five miles from where I lived. A surgical abortion with genera anesthesia was $300… half a month’s rent. I knew I had to find a way, and thankfully my mostly deadbeat boyfriend was able to pony up, too. I went to the clinic on a Saturday morning. I don’t remember much about it, but I remember afterward that I was giddy from the anesthesia and spent the drive home laughing and giggling. The boyfriend didn’t want to stay with me to be sure I was ok, so he took off with a bunch of friends to the Sunset Strip to go party and I stayed home, crampy and sad that his indifference was so obvious. It also underscored the wisdom of my decision… if he wasn’t going to stay with me THAT night, how reliable would he have been as a parent? 

Most arguments in support of abortion center around stories of rape and incest, stories of tubal pregnancies or incomplete miscarriages. My story was probably more like the typical case study of an average abortion. I made a mistake, and I solved the problem with medical care. I did the same thing I’d have done if I mistakenly cut myself or burned myself… I went to the doctor and got care.

I went on later to have a child. My son, who is awesome, is almost 23 years old. The circumstances of my second pregnancy were almost identical to the first, except that this time I married the deadbeat. The cruelty and abuse I endured during that marriage and the agony of the year-long divorce battle that followed did far more harm to me than my abortion did. I have NEVER regretted my abortion, but I will regret marrying my son’s father for the rest of my life. 

And all of this is MY business, and no one else’s. I made my decision, ensuring that I did what was right for ME. If someone doesn’t approve of my choice, I don’t really care.

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