Two years ago I boarded an early morning flight to Washington, D.C. I was so hopeful that my meeting with Sen. Susan Collins would end on a positive note. I thought that if only I could tell her my story in person, she would be even more resolved to protect reproductive health and rights.

I wanted to tell her that in 1963, as a terrified and desperate 18-year-old, I had an abortion.

It was before Roe v. Wade. It was before birth control was legal. It was the dark ages for a woman’s right to choose.

I had just started my first semester of college when I realized I was pregnant. I called my boyfriend. He offered to “do the right thing,” but I felt both our hearts sink as we spoke. We went to see his parents first. They had scrimped and saved to send him to college. I could see they were heartbroken, but they offered to help. He would quit school and get a job.

My parents were a different story. My mother basically threw me out. My father talked to her and I moved in to stay with them. My mother and I weren’t speaking. I became more depressed every day with nowhere to turn. The shame was overwhelming. I felt I couldn’t go on. I became suicidal.

My mother got scared then. To hide the truth, she told a neighbor that she was pregnant. The neighbor knew what to do. There was a secret network – the neighbor knew someone who knew someone. My mother learned there was a doctor in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania who was performing abortions, at great risk to himself. Someone got me an appointment.

My father drove me there. It was a small house on the main street of Ashland, Pennsylvania. The front door had a mirror in it. I realized they could see out, but I couldn’t see in. I saw myself. I felt like a criminal.

It was very clean and I remember that the doctor was kind, but I just felt numb. No one explained anything to me. I asked him if I would be able to have children someday. He promised I would. He gave me anesthesia. I woke up in a small room. Another girl was there. We didn’t speak. I threw up. Two hours later my father drove me back to school with a paper bag full of antibiotics. We never spoke of it again.

I had an abortion. I was really lucky. I lived. Now I have a wonderful daughter and two wonderful granddaughters. They live in Portland, only 20 minutes away from me. I don’t want them or anyone to ever be faced with anything like I went through.

This is what I would have told Sen. Collins two years ago. I wanted to ask her to be my voice; to protect and defend our basic right to determine what happens to our bodies.

But she didn’t even have the decency to show up for our meeting.

Instead, she betrayed our trust and put Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The first chance he got, he voted against safe, legal abortion, as we knew he would.

Now Sen. Collins is running for re-election. She asks us to trust her and continue to support her. But she is playing with us and we are not fooled. We know with certainty that when it comes time to vote, she is not with us. She is with her party leaders.

So no, Sen. Collins, I do not trust you. Two years ago, I couldn’t do anything except listen in shock as you ignored our voices and championed a man hostile to our rights.

This year is different. This year, I’m voting you out of office.


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