The taboo blessing: How abortion changed the course of this woman’s life 44



View Profile

I’ll always remember the day my mum revealed to me she had an abortion. Not because it was a terribly sad and harrowing moment, but because of the dignity she had when she told me. She said it had been a true blessing to be able to have one when, in the 70s, it was incredibly taboo. Today, it still is taboo, however much more accessible for women who want to make a choice about their bodies and lives.

One other such woman who was not ashamed to reveal just how crucial that choice was to her life is feminist activist and author Gloria Steinem. This week, her new book My Life On The Road was released, and while it’s about her international travels, it’s also about how she was able to have the life she did.

At 81 years old, she has done a lot of living, but some of it may not have been possible had Dr John Sharpe helped her live out her dreams. On the dedication page for the book, Steinem thanks the doctor who assisted her at 22 in having an illegal abortion.

Steinem writes that Sharpe requested only two things from her: that she not reveal his name, and that she would go forth and do what she wanted to do with her life.

The young woman was off to India in 1957 and had just broken off an engagement. “I’ve done the best I could with my life. This book is for you”.

The dedication for Gloria Steinem’s new book, presented without commentary:

Posted by Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style on Friday, 30 October 2015

Gloria spoke more about the dedication in a recent Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross and said, “I was desperate. I really was desperate. I just knew that if I went home and married, which I would’ve had to do, it would be to the wrong person; it would be to a life that wasn’t mine, that wasn’t mine at all”.

An outspoken activist on a range of issues, Gloria has always stood firm in her view of abortion. In 1969 she wrote about an abortion speak-out for New York Magazine, and later said she didn’t “begin my life as an active feminist” until that day.

She told The Guardian in 2011, “[Abortion] is supposed to make us a bad person. But I must say, I never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty. But I never could! I think the person who said: ‘Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament’ was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn’t going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive. But still, I didn’t tell anyone. Because I knew that out there it wasn’t [positive]”.

Like my mother, Gloria was in control of her destiny and didn’t want to brought down for it. While Gloria did not go on to have children, my mum did and told me she doesn’t think about what could have been at all.

It makes one wonder, how many other women out there are grateful for that second chance?

Tell us today, where do you stand on abortion? Is it still a taboo for you? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Should women be “allowed” to feel happy? We legislate feelings? Just that phrase speaks volumes about attitudes.

  2. I would never have had an abortion unless I was raped or there was a defect detected in the foetus that would cause disability. But I fully endorse and respect the rights of women today to have a legal abortion. These women are the ones who’s bodies will carry a child, they will be the ones who to love and care and feed for these children till they grow up and their rights must be respected. Unwanted children are sometimes battered and abused children , why bring a child into a resentful environment

    5 REPLY
  3. We call it abortion but is it?its a baby , murder is never justified, if it is why do we jail murderers? We’ve sanitised the whole issue by calling it a fetus, and I would never abuse anyone who has an abortion, it’s sad enough that it happens

    1 REPLY
    • Agree, Jane.

      Abortion is murder, no matter what the reason or the age of the unborn baby.

      Everyone who murders a baby should feel guilty. If not, they have no heart nor conscience!

  4. I’m with you Jane. No matter at what stage an abortion happens, it is still a baby, a human life taken! I’m not passing judgement on anyone. It’s just what I Believe.

    1 REPLY
  5. I don’t know that i could ever bring myself to have had an abortion ( lucky to have never had to make that decision) and i do feel there is a place for them in some circumstances . However to have multiple abortions , for that to be used as a form of birth control, is wrong. If you are in the position where you have a high chance of oregnancy, you should be doing everything in your power to make sure you don’t have an unwanted pregnancy. Everyone can make a mistake but numerous mistakes, in my opinion, is not the right thing to do …..and i am not talking about situations where women have no choice.

  6. Oh so take note that those saying ‘oh I could never have an abortion’ ‘but I don’t judge those who have’ then follow it up with ‘ abortion is murder’ you bunch of anti abortion trolls, shame on you and your hypocrisy. Internalised Misogyny at its worst!

    1 REPLY
  7. Having an abortion should always be the woman’s choice. It is she who will care for and provide for a child for at least 18 years. Women know if they can handle this or if they can’t. We need to respect their decision

  8. So many children are born into this world who have never felt love and are abused, neglected and unwanted…what a horrible existence they must endure… I have never had an abortion and am so grateful that I have never been in that situation where a choice had to be made – we all live different lives and have different opinions on a wide variety of issues that affect our lives and we need to respect that and not judge people for their decisions – Bringing a child into this world is a huge commitment physically, emotionally and financially and unless you can provide that the child is doomed to a life of despair and neglect – Thank you for sharing your story –

    2 REPLY
    • It’s not the baby or the childs fault that they are born to deadbeat parents. It’s the judges fault for continually giving these poor innocent children back into a hellish life that they can’t escape from. And thats why we don’t have adoption in this country.

    • I agree with you 100% Cathie – it is a sad reality that so many innocents are being born into a hostile environment and I honestly don’t know what the answer to this is –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *