WGBH Journal; Electric Boat
Good evening and welcome to GBH Journal. I'm Amy sands. Last week Governor Ed King signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country making state funds for abortions virtually unavailable except to save a woman's life. This year's Hyde amendment coming up for debate in Congress this week proposes the same strict limits on federal funding for abortions. Meanwhile pro-choice groups announced yesterday a stepped up campaign to pressure Congress people to vote against that amendment. Tonight in the midst of this heated political activity we're taking a special half hour a look at the people behind the abortion issue women facing unwanted pregnancies.
Women facing no easy decision. Coming up right after the local news with Greg Fitzgerald. The egg. The egg.
The egg. Now they're. Saying. That we stopped paying them for it when I was here. When you were saying that we want no not part of our money and be part of murdering children because there is you are now. Paying that tax money and millions of people of great sex money we are just as guilty of murdering that child is the doctor and the young lady that's the ONLY about this bill causes me some very grave concern.
My concern is that if this bill is passed. By this legislature. Say. Legal abortions will become unavailable to some women who do not have the financial resources to pay for them. We have to examine medical literature and hospital records to realize that when say services are dated. By women who have either the complications of.
Abortion are you for it or against it. Hate it or condone it. Do you support the rights of the unborn or the rights of women. Should the states pay for abortions or cut off all funding. These are the questions we are presented with. Has the abortion issue continues to preoccupy Congress state legislatures and the courts. But what does abortion really all about. It's one way of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. A way chosen by some women and rejected by others who choose instead to keep their children or put them up for adoption.
Here's how seven Massachusetts women faced with unplanned pregnancies made their decisions.
Two women chose to keep their children.
The father of the child going to Paris. So I mean he was out of the country. He was nowhere around.
Cheryl whose real name cannot be used is in her 30s. Her decision to go through with her pregnancy and keep her baby came after months of agonized debate with herself.
And I just couldn't imagine how I was going to raise a child. I didn't have a job. I was really just a child myself. OK. So I just I didn't know what to do. Everything went through my mind where my going to live. I don't have even any furniture if I find an apartment if I find an apartment. Am I going to pay for it. I don't have a job. I'm still in school. OK. I just didn't know which end was up or what to do because I love you.
I've just been a lot on my own for a really long time and I haven't had any sense of family. I haven't really had anybody to live and share my life with and I just have that love inside that I. I really feel I have a lot to offer a baby.
Tony is 20 and living in a home for unwed mothers. She expects her child in a month or so. She plans to keep the baby in spite of pressure from her family to have an abortion.
I felt ready to accept the responsibility but I felt that nobody else was had the respect for me that I could even make my own decision. Everybody wanted me to get an abortion and I don't believe in abortion for myself. I know I can emotionally handle it and. Everyone just everyone that I loved and anyone that could give me more support was against me. I had.
Gone to some baby books to try and convince myself that this is not a human being. This is just a living mass of nothingness you know. And the book was going to convince me of this Revelations but it didn't.
On the contrary it drilled into you that this was a beautiful human being from as I said like five minutes after conception which is a bit weird but still. This is what the book gave me.
As opposed to what I was looking for. So I was torn between killing and that's what I had been convinced at that point. Killing a living human thing plus the fact also of being worried about because I heard so much about just through the grapevine type of thing that girls don't live through this. Perhaps if I could have gone to a hospital. To a doctor hadn't paid for gone to some clean place I might have gone through that is something I'll never know.
Cheryl questioned her decision to keep the baby up to the last possible second.
Tony is sure now there was a great deal of guilt feelings I had and was I right in keeping with you. Maybe it was better off for the child to be someplace else even to the extent right up to when the baby was born. I had requested of the doctor and the nurses. That I. Not hold the child. Right. I mean the baby had been born and I was sitting in my room in the the wing of the hospital and I'm still bantering in my mind shall keep the child keep the child.
And I thought if I see the baby if I hold the baby I know no way and that's no way to make the decision I've got to try and decide what's best for the baby.
When the nurse came in with the babies in the room I was in a ward and there were four or five other girls in there with me I forget now how many. They were all given their babies and my baby was brought to me and I told the nurse I'm not supposed to have the baby would you please check the child.
The doctor left orders and she was kind of uppity What do you mean you know it's feeding time here take it kid. And I just went to pieces. I didn't want to see the baby I didn't want to hold the baby for at least one day until I thought I could make up my own mind without being weighed one way or the other by holding the child.
She she just loves the baby and five seconds after the kid was in my arms I couldn't give him up.
That was it. Decision was made I had to keep the baby.
I feel it's harder to have a baby especially you know because I don't have a husband. But I think it's possible and I think it'll be really rewarding to have a child in my life.
Honestly I'm glad I made the decision. As I said My son is 15 years old and I'm sure any parent whether they be married or not out there listening will know when you've got a boy 15 years old sometimes you want to murder him.
You know you wonder why did I leave you someplace. But I love him and I don't give him up for anything.
Do women put your children up for adoption.
I still want to go to school and everything and I still want to live my life I haven't seen half these things you know I haven't had much fun as I would have because I'd have to settle right down and be with the baby and everything. And I just couldn't do that because you know I don't even like babysitting for my mother never mind much my own baby. I mean I think you know and if I had to keep it I'd have to rely on my mother and everything she wants to baby you know and get it right because it's mines why should my mother bring up another family. Really. That's how I feel.
Donna's 14. She has decided to put her baby up for adoption when it's born.
She rejects abortion they say I would not live a lie and tell me I know I know now I know I know I know more than I know than I did in the beginning. You know in the beginning I mean I didn't even want to hear nothing about it you know I was getting bored. But then you know you really don't think about it and then I started going to make a point and then we start here in happiness and you know it's alive and I just don't believe in it and I just can't live my show.
Most only after you know I did something I guess when I first found out I was pregnant it was too late for me to have an abortion and I gave her baby up for adoption 10 years ago.
Hers and Donna's decisions reflect substantial pressure from their parents and I decided that I would.
My parents decided that I would go into a home and have this baby and I had decided myself that I didn't even want to see her. And I gradually as I was in this homey atmosphere the home was such that most of the girls they were going to keep their babies once they had them and I just started making clothes for the baby and kneading for it and everything and it just seemed like it was going to be my baby. But the time at the time when it came for me to make the final decision it was more or less my parents decision to have her taken away from me.
I was really I was really terrible and memo doesn't deserve that. She really doesn't feel like it's like something that you've done to her to upset her. I think that's what she feels that you know and again and then again I don't think she feels that way. Is that true and is that why. Go get pregnant just get married that's how I think she feels that I temporarily to her. My mother still bringing me in then I'm going to be bringing up someone else. It's you know Ted. If it was in my position like right now you know my position so you're probably saying that she's crazy you know. But I'm really not. Once you're in the position you put yourself in it and then you start thinking about it then you'll understand my parents to leave me no choice because that because it was too late to have an abortion.
They said there was no possible way that I could keep this child and still be their daughter. I mean and I'm an only child I don't have anybody I didn't have anybody else I could turn to. I don't think I think if it happened now I don't I think I would have backed away from them. And sooner or later Mimi would come around and maybe they wouldn't have. But at the time I was scared I didn't have no way anyplace else to go. Anybody else to turn to and they knew it and they backed me into a corner like that.
Seeing her baby marked a turning point in Cheryl's decision to keep her baby holding her child bound and a closer to the baby she did eventually have to give up. And Donna isn't sure what being with her child will do to her decision.
When I went to the hospital handy they wouldn't show it to me for the first two days because they thought that's what I still wanted. Even though I told my mother to tell them when I went to the hospital they didn't want to see the baby and I didn't want to take care of her and everything. A mother never told and they kept the baby from me for two days and I thought it was because there was something wrong with her or because she was dead or something. And I was really upset with the doctor because he wouldn't do it. And he came into my room and he said well I said Can I see my baby now. And he said Well your mother and the social worker said and I said I don't care. They say mother this child if I want to see her I will see her. He said you know he tried to calm me down and I was really angry. I was angry at my mother. I was angry at my social worker because I trusted them. And when I got right down to signing the final papers I wrote I really thought about not signing but it was just I was just in such an emotional turmoil and I just didn't know what else I could do I was backed into a corner.
You don't have to see the baby after it's born. But I could totally change my mind which I'm going to try not. But I'm not going to see the baby. Yeah but I'm not going to beat in that and you know because you know they've attached to it it would just hurt me more. And I just don't want to make the wrong decision. I want to make the best one for me right now and for me in the best decision right now. It's adoption and that's how I feel and that's how everyone else hears.
But it's really really going to hurt me a lot. But I think I'll get over it you know. It will take a long time but I'll get over it.
And I don't know maybe maybe it was you know better because I really I really didn't know where I could have turned to and something might have happened to her because I was very immature and I was just as much a child as she was at the time she was born. It took me like six months to a year to be you know totally over it when it didn't seem like it ever happened.
But I think about her a lot. I have a picture of her and when she was a baby.
I you know I wonder how she's how she's doing if she's been you know healthy and if she's had everything that she needed on it and. That was you know that was the biggest adjustment was you know knowing that she wasn't there.
Three women chose abortion.
I had scored in a divorce from my husband and I had just applied for welfare and I had two children at home at the time one was two and the other one was five. And found out that I was pregnant and I just just couldn't handle it. Not with the divorce and the financial situation at the time I couldn't handle it.
My husband my first husband walked out on me and left me with a 3 year old boy. And I had a feeling good job at CIA and. I was emotionally upset due to him just walking out. My parents lived in Illinois at that time I had no family around. I was ashamed. Real.
I had no idea where my husband was and I was just ashamed. I felt really lost alone.
I had no money. It was a big thing we had no money no health insurance on me that would cover a pregnancy and delivery. I that much it would interrupt my career plans as far as education goes where I can. A child is very much in my future not in it but it wasn't then. The fact that my husband wasn't. Wasn't ready either he didn't feel like he was emotionally ready to be a father and I didn't feel like I was emotionally stable enough to be a mother. We had been together for four years but I also felt that our relationship needed more time to solidify to Eileen and Roberta both receive welfare and are expecting to take jobs soon.
Carol lives and works in the Boston area.
This is what I do with the way I feel now it's do that it doesn't exist.
Maybe if I had signed the papers for drugs and had the baby then might have been right. For me I didn't feel that I was right but if supposing I did alright with the way I think. It would be seven years old and then I would start one wonder and I'm not going to be on welfare forever and that's when I would want want the baby I have that I gave up there. And you can't do that. So for me abortion was the right decision.
I didn't think I could take care of another baby. It is I can't say I want to I couldn't carry it for nine months and I give it up. It's just not in me to do that I'd rather just not have it at all.
I would have kept the baby and you know who knows what Carol had a legal abortion.
I was. Very very nervous over the whole procedure and it wasn't as easy as the counselors told us I guess it's different for every person but for me it wasn't that easy it was physically. It is just so strange. It was frightening and it wasn't painless either.
But Eileen and Roberta were pregnant long before the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Eileen decided to apply for the only kind of abortion that was legal in 1970.
A therapeutic abortion they set up a series of clinic appointments for enter and also. Urine work blood work and one and after each appointment you said and you discussed and it seemed like every time I went there was a different doctor. There was always one head doctor on staff. And then by the time you get up on the table they call him Mike three or four more doctors interns You know well let's study this one she's going to have a therapeutic abortion and you know lie in there for an hour which you should be there for like 10 or 15 minutes and you're just lying there on a table waiting for them and they're writing their little notes and they're making their little remarks and they gave me a terrorist. I was a 12 hour test there I had to go back three days in a row far as questions. And I can still remember you I do. Are you afraid of catching germs off to do or are you afraid of the devil. Do you think God's going to punish you I mean all these questions maybe to them it meant something. But if you can purchase South pregnant not wanting a baby very emotional over it so afraid that they're not going to approve the abortion you're applying for. And then sit down and try to answer these damn questions. The mouse pointer of it all was after they approved the abortion.
They said to me we don't think you are in heaven. It's it's very dangerous and it's kind of late and that's when I really flipped out. I told them that I had gone to the mat six weeks alone and it wasn't my fault they waited so long it wasn't my fault that their red tape and their paperwork and their studies took so long how it was.
I was 5 months Roberta aborted herself.
I got a I quit my job and went on. And I thought they hadn't because I didn't bleed or anything. I was about three months on and for the next two months I got tips from different people of how to give yourself an abortion. One way was as crowded of a bottle of ammonia the fumes possibly can kill the fetus. I put a coat hanger into my uterus and not and nothing seemed to work I didn't think. And one day I went to the bathroom my girlfriend was over and. The baby went into the toilet my just flushed and it was brownish color. I don't know what it was and then about 10 minutes later I started to mature and I almost died and the guilt I carry was something I wouldn't want to see any other woman go through.
I cannot it is not a cut and dry decision for me. But at that point in my life it was cut and dry for me that I could not deal with a child I didn't and at that time that was more important than whether or not I really considered it murder and the fact that it was you know I just really it's really early. Five weeks. You know it looks it doesn't look like a few child notice doesn't have anything right now. I just blocked it out.
Actually whether or not I have to do it out later I'm Catholic and I believe that my God is a loving and forgiving God and if I did commit a sin he's forgiven me for it. I prayed about it and I prayed cat happy. Help me make a right decision and I feel I have because I don't think you want another job. Maybe I would have abused you know neglected. I don't think God would want that.
I have my own thoughts about the church and a lot of hang ups because I did go to Catholic school for the first seven years of my schooling. And to me being a Catholic doesn't change it one way or another. I know a lot of people are now up on their religion but to me it didn't make a difference because it wasn't them in the situation. It wasn't them financially and emotionally so it didn't make a difference to me.
You've been listening to the voices of seven women who made or are in the process of making hard decisions on what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. There are women working and on welfare. Women in school and women at home.
We hope you've heard something of your own uncertainties in their stories.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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