For ten years, my mother was unable to conceive. She was convinced that a non-sterile abortion and subsequent infection had destroyed her capacity to become pregnant. This was her punishment, the judgment on her youthful perfidy. Finally, in her mid-thirties, she found the courage to schedule an appointment with an out-of-state ob/gyn, far enough away to protect her anonymity. Finally, she shared her story with someone. After the examination, he told her that she was perfectly healthy and there was no reason why she couldn’t have a baby. She went home and promptly conceived.
In the final days of her life, she talked obliquely about the “terrible things” she had done in her life, forgetting that she had told me told me about the abortions three decades earlier. I reminded her that abortions are legal today and that she didn’t need to feel frightened or ashamed anymore. There was a long pause before she said, “Well, I will think about that.”