Garage Sale Stories. One Woman’s Tale of Abortion

Often on my garage sale excursions I end up having lengthy conversations with the people holding them. I am always curious about their lives and why they are selling their things and the history of those things.  A bit of cultural anthropology, if you will.
 Yesterday I went to a sale I read about on Craigslist in a place called Leisure Village. I was expecting to find someone either selling off a deceased parents’ things or perhaps a couple in their late seventies or eighties since Leisure Village is a huge development for senior citizens. Instead I met a woman who was maybe sixty but had a youthful air, her VW bus and VW Karmann Ghia out front.
 She had had stints as costume designer, makeup artist, and curtain maker. She told me she was now a hypnotist and massage therapist who was on disability since being rear ended in her little Karmann Ghia in the parking lot of Vons Grocery by a semi-truck. I noticed she had a lot of cats, often a sign of a woman living alone. I asked if she was married and she said no. I told her a little about my story of being a mom and how I am collecting vintage fabric and patterns to make dresses for a fashion show benefitting an adoption center. I  asked if she had any children, and she told me no, she had only had abortions. 
She went on to tell me the story of her first abortion in 1969, the same year I was born. I quietly thanked my mom, who had also been young and unmarried that year but had chose to have me anyway. The woman then told me how she had paid an abortion broker 600 dollars in West LA and had arranged to meet her in a parking garage. This was before 1973 when abortion in the US had become legalized. She had then been blindfolded before entering the doctors office. They had told her to take some pills beforehand but she told me how she was afraid to swallow pills, so she didn’t take them. Strange that someone who was about to undergo illegal surgery would be afraid to swallow a few pills, no? She then told me about how she had had a D&C without any anesthesia by a doctor who remained silent the whole time. I was starting to feel a little dizzy at this point. I asked her how she felt about that event, now so many years later. She told me how she felt nothing, and had proceeded to go on to have more abortions. She explained how she had married the man who had been the father of the first baby she had the abortion with and how the marriage had failed after only two years. Shortly after the divorce her ex had gone on to invent something having to do with stock analysis and had become a multi-millionaire. Perhaps if they had had the baby together things would have been different, I thought. I thought about her story as I left. Why was she telling me this deeply personal story if she didn’t feel some kind of remorse or regret? She must have been traumatized on some level, if not just by the physical pain of it.
As I drove away with my sewing shears and vintage blender I had bought from her, I said a silent prayer for her and her aborted babies. One decision can change the course of a person’s life forever. I realize this isn’t a political blog but sometimes things like this compel me to write about them. The lessons we can learn just by speaking to someone at a garage sale.

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-McKenzie

Comments

  1. says

    It’s really too bad women have had to go to such lengths just to have some (miniscule) measure of control over their reproductive health. I’m elated that we finally passed some legislation that gives women more power – free birth control must be offered by private health insurance companies: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/birth-control-free-insurance-rules-affect-millions-women/story?id=14202111

    I know this is a sad story, and no one wants to think about one person having multiple abortions as a form of birth control. That’s not what abortions are for. At the same time, I don’t think we should let shocking stories like this scare us into thinking that abortion is always bad or that keeping the fetus is always the best thing for a woman’s well-being.

  2. says

    First of all,women in our culture and around the world have swallowed the lie that abortion is more freedom for women and that it gives them more power.It is murder.Period.
    I want to thank you for sharing this story of this woman and her sin.We do not get to hear of such horrific stories much and I believe they need to be told to educate and hopefully convict the rest of us.God bless you and praying for that lady,her aborted babies and the rest of the women out there that take murder so lightly.

  3. Anonymous says

    Uh oh Justine! You’ve opened up a can of worms. I hope if there is a debate here that everyone will be respectful of each others opinions.

    My mother choose to have me when she was 26. She slept with some random guy at a party and became pregnant with me. I do not know who my father is and I was the only mistake she made (only child). She reminded me often how she wished I was never born and how if my father knew me he wouldn’t want me either. I told her when I was nine that I wished she would have aborted me.

    She was 26 and was a supervisor at the Department of Health and Human Services. She owned her own home. She was in a good position financially.

    When I was 19 I was in an abusive relationship for over a year (happens when you have no self worth and a daddy complex). The guy had bipolar disorder and wouldn’t take his medication. I became pregnant. It was at that moment I realized how life would be if I had the baby. I had an abortion at 6 weeks and left the guy. If I wasn’t put in that position, I probably would still be in a horrible relationship being beaten and choked or dead. Instead, I went to college and I am now (at the age of 30) in a great relationship with a wonderful man with no children.

    I believe that this is between a woman and God. It is not for us to judge. Women have been having abortions for over 500 years. My grandmother (now in her 90s) told me in 1950s that abortions were routine. Many relatives, family friends and neighbors of hers had abortions. They didn’t announce it to the world but talked about it in private with other women. These were women of Christian and Catholic backgrounds.

  4. Anonymous says

    Not something I expected to read on a sewing blog. I get my politics elsewhere I am afraid.

  5. Shawnta says

    If you have to post something anonymously perhaps it shouldn’t be said at all. I am grateful that women have options but personally I know that is a choice that I could not make. I’m glad you shared the story and don’t feel like you are preaching. All of us need prayer no matter our choices.

  6. Marcia says

    I know men that are still suffering 30 years later.. it effects us all, even the unborn children of the aborted and their grandchildren!

  7. Anonymous says

    I’m sorry guys – I just wanted to clarify that my response was not to Justine. Her post was very thoughtful and well written. I was wanting to share my story with “Changing”.

    Murder is not a word I can read and not respond to. I wanted to put an (anonymous) face to a label.

    Don’t worry I won’t come back here again – to this comment section that is! I’ll still be subscribed to Justine’s blog. 😉

  8. says

    Right — having a baby to save a marriage in trouble is such a good idea! I’m sure her husband would have stayed with her then, and they’d raise the baby as a perfectly loving family. The kid would definitely not grow up with divorced parents and a mom who can’t afford to raise him and regrets how hard her life has become. That never happens.

    I’d be traumatized too if I had to go undercover like a criminal and forgo proper medical care in order to end a pregnancy I do not want happening in my body.

  9. Sew Country Chick says

    Actually they got married AFTER the abortion which is pretty unusual. Anyway, I didn’t mean to strike such a raw nerve with my readers. It’s just one of those things that really leaves you thinking about the issue on so many levels and what about the trauma to the mother? That procedure been having done while blindfolded must have been terribly traumatic, but why did she have more after? And maybe if she had someone to talk to she might have chosen adoption, instead of doing this. I find it interesting that none of the commenters have even mentioned adoption as a choice. I agree that it’s terrible to be born into a family that doesn’t want you, but what about giving the baby a chance ? There are so many nice families out there who want to raise a baby but aren’t able to. Perhaps one of the reasons people adopt from other countries is because there are so few babies left in orphanages here.1 in 4 babies are aborted in this country. I think a lot of girls might choose adoption instead of abortion if they has someplace safe to turn to that would help them.

  10. Anonymous says

    Unfortunately adoption isn’t any better.

    About 30% of Americans have considered adopting but only 2% have done so: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_seek.pdf

    “Many Children Spend Years in Foster Care
    Almost 70 percent of the children waiting to be adopted had been in continuous foster care for two years or more; twenty-five percent for five years or more.”

    “Many More Adoptive Homes Needed
    Even with the recent increases in adoptions from foster care, the number of children waiting for adoption on September 30, 1999 was more than two-and-a-half times the number of children adopted during that year.”

    Record numbers of foster kids leave program as adults: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-05-23-foster_n.htm

    How great would it be to age out of foster care? They give you a little bit of pocket change and you’re out on your own without any family at all.

    “Government and private studies have found that such teens are less likely to finish high school, and more likely to go to prison or become homeless. Census data show that fewer than 3% earn college degrees, compared with 28% of the population.” – USA Today

    “Declining abortion rate
    There has been no research showing that women are choosing to abort their children rather than place these children for adoption. Although the adoption rate has remained relatively steady, nationwide abortion rates have continued to decline since 1990. (Freundlich, 1998)”

  11. SaraB says

    I’m glad you shared this. Politics aside, I think it’s important to point out that abortion has lasting effects on the womans psyche. I know many women who are haunted by their past abortion(s) some thirty years later. Abortion doesn’t end as soon as the procedure is over, it continues to be a part of who you are.

  12. Myra says

    Thanks for sharing, Justine – sorry if I don’t agree with the anonymous ones – abortion is murdering an innocent life. You can always choose adoption, use birth control if you are so inclined or just don’t have sex. It’s not politics, but morality. It’s wrong to take another person’s life. We did adopt our first, there are people out there willing to adopt, so I don’t agree with that earlier statement entirely.

  13. Anonymous says

    How sad. And how incredibly sad with some of these comments. You guys don’t know; you just don’t. We all make excuses for the bad decisions in our lives; to continue to make excuses years later, to strangers, just shows how wrong we know that decision was.

    And can I just say the facts someone brought up about adoption are misleading. Yes, 30% of people think about adoption but only 2% do it…that is because there are 98% fewer adoptions in the US today, because of fewer babies. Any guesses where those babies are? I personally would love to adopt a baby, since I can’t have any biologically, and hope to do so…once my husband and I move up the waiting list and save $25,000.

  14. Anonymous says

    Sorry, just to clarify my “you don’t know” rant…I volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. These women aren’t relieved or liberated after an abortion…they’re broken. Emotionally crushed, their soul ripped out. It’s like you can see the vacancy in their eyes. Many, many of the post-abortion girls are repeats…on their third, fourth abortions, like the woman in the post. They need help.

  15. says

    I am just reading this post now but I wanted to just speak up and tell you I think you are brave for posting this. I think it is so true; ‘the problem’ is not over when the baby is aborted. For some it may just be the beginning. What an incredibly incredibly sad story. Women who have had an abortion (or more than one) need our prayers.

  16. Magdelena says

    There is something wrong with abortion when it’s done even the first time, but at least one can come up with a decent excuse and still seem like a normal person with feelings and morals. But the second third and fourth time? No excuse for the abuse. Someone once said that the more someone shuts out graces, the less and less he or she will continue to receive. That is why there are some that seem just pure evil, all light has been completely shut out. To the anonymous commenter who had been beaten, getting beaten by someone is a horrible thing, that is certainly agreeable. Agreeable too is the notion that you made the choice with your own free-will to be in that relationship. Someone did not randomly interrupt your life as is the case with abortion. You were merely beaten, your life was spared. You have some responsibility to account for; you were not 100% innocent. But the situation is still one worth compassion from others. What more is someone whose life is taken and that person is 100% innocent. You are guilty of something infinitely worse than what you complain that was done to you. There is surely more women in hell than men because of this atrocity. There is no diluting what abortion is. This life is so short, in 100 years hardly one person that you see on this day will be alive. Make choices moment by moment to anticipate meeting with Our Creator, which is sure to come. We all will see death, but none will be so innocent in death as those who were destroyed by their own sadly misguided mothers.

  17. says

    Very, very interesting.
    Yes, you are brave for posting this and the responses so interesting as well. Politics, Morality, & Religion aside, we do learn so much from simply opening our mouths.

    It must have been quite a strange & disturbing experience for you and I think you must have been compelled to chronicle it here. If this woman was talking about it -even dispassionately- years later to a stranger, then it surely is on her mind no matter how much she believes that she “felt nothing”.

    I am sad for her and those babies. To have experienced it more than once? No wonder she seems like a shell. I will say that I think most women who have had an abortion must regret,regret, regret for all their lives but they cannot get back the moments that led them to it. I also think that most would not have done so if they had it to do over.

    My Prayers, but again it is not for us to judge.