Karen's Story

I thought it might be a helpful experience to share the story of my abortion here with those who might care, learn and grow from what I am about to share. Perhaps it will assist others to understand more about what it really means to face that decision. Imagine, if we did not have Choice?? Gloria Steinem once said in a Congressional meeting "if we do not share, we are voiceless in our numbers." If you doubt this statement, go and look it up in the library of books like the ones I have listed below and those of us from the 70's on will appreciate its value. Once we did NOT have a choice. I was on the edge of that choice as you are about to see.

I am now 44 years of age which means in my heart's eyes I am only 25 but that is another story. I was 24 years old when I took off to see the western United States, it was around 1980-81 after being raised in Fairbanks, Alaska my whole life. And of course, those of us who were there know how immensely dead-ended that city is, nice though the people might be. I was actually glad to escape from there but where to? I headed to Eugene, Oregon to study under a psychologist by the name of Sterling Ellsworth, which turned out to be out of my financial range and so went on to explore the western United States as planned, having never lived outside of -50 (below zero) temperatures in my adult life. I went south towards southern California, avoiding the LA and San Diego areas for its heavy population areas (which I ironically enough would eventually end up living for almost 3 years).

Through a wild and interesting set of circumstances I found myself housekeeping, in, of all places a mancamp in a little boom town called Evanston, Wyoming. About 3 miles within the Wyoming border about 80 miles NE of Salt Lake City, Utah. I had about 100 bucks to my name, I was self sufficient in that I had enough granola, canned goods and basic materials to live out of my backpack for about a month, perhaps more. I was content. However, I also needed a job. That is when I found Evanston. It was a fluke, a blast and totally neat and unexpected. I also outbid about 200 other applicants for one of 4 jobs.

I went from having a few bucks, not a lot of food, no home, no male companionship and no future to speak of, to the proud applicant of being apart of the ARA Mancamp of Evanston Wyoming; population, normally of about 500, now around 10 times that. I had a ton of food, men, money (about 10/hr or so) a serious roof over my head and I relished those days. Still do. With about 1000 men and about 150 women in the camp, to say that I had my choice of men is the understatement. Did I go for the men? NO, I went for the banana cream pies, strawberries and THEN finally, the salads (I remember that well).

Somewhere along the line I got involved with two men, a man named Tom and a West Virginia man named Paul. I still think to this day that Paul was the father of my fetus. He was not the best choice of a man and I eventually left him for my own greener pastures. I left the camp shortly thereafter...

What I found instead was being completely alone in a hostel in Boulder Colorado 10,000 miles from home, realizing I was pregnant and no way out (GOD how I remember that moment). Not a good experience. I had about the equivalent of about $1800. (I was told later that had I not had the $350 bucks, about $600 now, for the abortion, there was no funding whatsoever and I would have been definitely on my own! Can you imagine!!). Enter Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. I realized on a Wed I was pregnant (no not the flu). I got checked on Thursday and elected on Sat to abort. It was that quick. I was 6 weeks pregnant. There was no alternative and I have NEVER ONCE regretted my decision. RMPH (Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood) is what saved me to this day.

I was staying at the time, at the Denver Youth Hostel. I remember that the hostel closed after around 9 am and it was next to impossible to get back in after they closed the door (shut out time at most hostels) but I had made arrangements with the Hostel Parents to make an exception on that day for me. I will never forget the abortion. I took the bus and then after I was counseled, they led me to a room, a little old man about 90 years old was there (the abortionist) and the nurse was there. I held her hand and nearly dug my nails into her poor hand...... there was a girl down the hall screaming her head off..... after they left, they said to lay quietly on the table for awhile and I'd be ok, and I immediately got up and started throwing up, crying, and bleeding all at the same time. Helluva experience. Meanwhile the girl down the hall screams still echoed in my head. They lead me into a "recovery room'" in which I was suppose to stay about an hour or two to mellow out. I left about 5 minutes later. Get me the f*ck out of there.

I took the bus home, it was lightly snowing and I had to "pebble" the Hostel parents to let me in. The bombings and "sidewalk counseling" (from the "lovely" pro-life folks) at the clinics started about 6 months later, so I was lucky. If I had not had the abortion I would have ended up in Fairbanks Hell (where else could I have gone!) It would have literally ruined my life! RMPP gave me all the options (adoption, etc) but more much MUCH more than that they gave me the strength and support to follow my decision through. I was not judged. I was supported. Emotionally. I still remember to this day sitting at that woman's desk as she ran the list of "options" past me. And I still remember when I told her "there was no option for me but one, the fetus was 6 weeks old and I was 24, there was absolutely NO question" I could not, would not, go back to Fairbanks for a one time f*ck up." It was time to face the music and I did it alone. I am proud of that. THIS IS WHY I AM PRO CHOICE. I always been pro choice and was before this.

NO man can ever HAVE to make that decision. It is an emotional, financial, spiritual, intellectual decision and it must ABSOLUTELY be made BY THE WOMAN. I am also vehemently PRO education: in all arenas. It is my personal dream on this planet to never have a woman to ever have to face abortion again. However, as a pro-creation species, we naturally will have the desire for a sexual union. I definitely think men get off easy. If men could get pregnant they would have a completely different take on the subject. I believe there are a lot of very caring and loving men out there, just as there are a lot of complete and selfish a**holes. I even heard of a woman who, when she told her boyfriend she was pregnant he denied it and said he would state in a court of law "that she was sleeping with half his friends". She said "lovely and I'll make sure my father the Judge handles the case."

I am vehemently pro-choice and I always ALWAYS shall be. I hope this story helps those who read it. As a postnote, it took me at least 2 years or more to tell my family about the abortion, even thinking that all hell would break loose, me being the baby girl and all. And what happened? My mother, who has 6 kids of her own, is pro choice and chose not to abort for her own reasons said "Karen, do you honestly think I'd take a 6 week old fetus over my beautiful 25 year old daughter."

20 January 2001

more stories -- share your story

Birth Control Comparison - alll methods Abortion Info from Feminist Women's Health CenterShare your story
Poetry and Prose - by women about their reproductive lives Teens HealthResources for Women of Color
Feminist Abortion Clinics Real Life Abortion Stories from teens Questions and Answers


"We need Everyone to be strong, men and women. We need to be helping each other. I think that our lesbianism is very positive because it strengthens the overall movement."
- by Barbara Noda in 1979

BOOKS I recommend:

The Choices We Made: Twenty-five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion by Angela Bonavoglia. This is an excellent, easily read and fascinating book where women like Whoopi Goldberg, Jill Clayburgh, Anne Archer and others speak about their abortion experiences. Do you know that Whoopie Goldberg got pregnant like 4 times and one time using the pill, foam AND the condom? She said after all that she saw the writing on the wall and called any man getting close to her "the sperm of doom" and she got her tubes tied. I think in all, she had three abortions.

The Worst of Times: Illegal Abortion Survivors, Practitioners, Coroners, Cops and Children of Women Who Died Talk About its Horrors by Patricia G. Miller. Roe vs. Wade became the law in 1973. As a high schooler who could have easily gotten pregnant (if was having sex) at the time (graduated in 74), I could EASILY have been one of the horror survivors!

Back Rooms: An Oral history of The Illegal Abortion Era by Ellen Messer and Kathryn E. May, PsyD. Women's stories of surviving illegal abortion prior to Roe vs. Wade

Moments on Maple Avenue: The Reality of Abortion by Louse Kapp Howe. Stories from an abortion clinic, an older and well written book There is even a story I have in another book called "The Abortionist" writing anonymously in 1962, because he could get arrested and thrown in jail (when even dispensing birth control pills were illegal!) that tells of the cop who tried to arrest him later came to his back door with his pregnant teenage daughter for an abortion!