ROCKLAND — It was the summer of 1965. I was 17 years old on summer vacation with my parents at Ocean City, Maryland, and I met a boy.

We had sex. Four weeks later, still no period, I decided to tell my mother.

My mother was both a devout Catholic and a registered nurse. When I told her I thought I was pregnant, she pulled me down to my knees in front of a religious picture and began to pray.

“Mom, you can pray if you want, but I don’t think it’s going to make me un-pregnant,” I said. She then turned into Nurse Mom and used a home remedy to try to bring on a late period. Nothing happened. She took me to the doctor, who confirmed that I was pregnant, and then to church, where I confessed my “sin.”

On the way home, Mom said, “You’re telling your father.”

I had admitted my indiscretion that day to Mom, the doctor, to God, but now the big one: Father.


My career military father was well on his way to becoming a two-star general. He’d spent his life trying to raise me well. We had rules for everything: How to walk, talk, sit, eat, answer the phone, everything. If I wanted to go out on a date, the young man would have to come over to the house in advance of the actual date to be “interviewed” by my father. I had an early curfew, and when I would return home, my father would be waiting for me.

I knew I was about to disappoint him greatly.

But when I told him I was pregnant, he turned to me and said simply, “How can I help you?”

That’s all he said. No lecture, no condemnation, simply and profoundly, “How can I help you?”

Those have to be the kindest words anyone can say to you when you are in trouble.

I told him I wanted an abortion, realizing I’d just asked my father to become a criminal. This straight-arrow protector and defender of freedom, who never even paid a credit card bill late, was going to commit an illegal act to bail out his daughter.


The following week my parents and I drove to Baltimore. They were apprehensive, but I was trusting. We met the providers in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson’s. My dad gave them half the money, and I got into a car with two strange men in front and an older woman in the back.

The men blindfolded us.

We drove for what seemed to be about an hour to the proverbial country farmhouse. Blindfolds removed, we entered through a porch into a room almost bare of furniture except a makeshift operating table in the dining room.

A woman came from the back of the house to greet us. I went first and she held my hand the entire time, talking to me, distracting and soothing me. A man I cannot recall performed my abortion. It seemed professional. It was quick and relatively painless. I was taken to a bedroom, where they gave me clean pajamas and antibiotics and I rested while they helped the other woman.

And that was it.

We got back into the car, re-tied the blindfolds and returned to the Howard Johnson’s, where my father paid the rest of the money. No bleeding, no infection, no cramps, nothing. The following week, I arrived at Syracuse University for freshman orientation.


I know my privilege afforded me a relatively good experience compared to the horror show of back-alley possibilities, and I am eternally grateful to those strangers who risked their freedom, their reputations and their professions to help me stay on track in my young life.

Decades after my abortion, I remain grateful for everyone who works diligently every day for safe, legal, stigma-free abortion.

Women in need of an abortion should be able to go to health centers and doctors’ offices. No one should have to ride blindfolded from a hotel parking lot to a farmhouse in order to undergo a safe medical procedure. But I fear that will happen again if an anti-abortion rights judge like Brett Kavanaugh joins the Supreme Court.

I don’t have a vote in Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but I have a voice. I’m sharing my story in hopes that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King will hear me and oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.


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