My Rape; My Illegal Abortion; My Almost Dying: Reflections From 1968

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I was set to graduate from college in a few months. March 1968. I awoke to a voice telling me: “Don’t make a sound or I will kill you.” My screaming was instinctive, and I suppose I paid for that. I screamed and screamed, and the more I screamed, the more he hit me. Although there were four people in the apartment at the time, apparently no one heard me. When I tasted blood in my mouth from his brutal fists, the realization dawned on me that this man didn’t care how much he hurt me, and was willing, indeed, to kill me. I felt the saddest I had ever felt in my short life: not that I was going to die, but that I was going to die without being with any of the people who loved me. I acquiesced to the rape, and tolerated the soft words of his affection for my “titties,” as he called them. I had become so passive, he could have performed a lobotomy on me and I wouldn’t have let out a peep.

I waited a long time after he left to start screaming again. Finally, one of my roommates heard my desperate pleas. She called the police; I went into shock, and was brought to the hospital. My neck was stitched up from the razor blade slice, which was way too scarily close to my jugular. The hospital took their version of a rape kit — including determining whether or not I had ovulated.

I returned to the hospital three days later, and was told that, indeed, I had ovulated, and that there was a possibility that I had become pregnant. They informed me that abortion was illegal, even in case of rape. They were sorry.

I arranged an illegal abortion. The abortionist was an M.D., and that felt safe to me. I went to my regular gynecologist, and informed him that I was having an illegal abortion the next day, and asked if I could come to him if there were any problems.

After the abortion, I was staying with a friend. (I never went back to the rape apartment — not even to get my belongings.) Three days later, I was still feeling a great deal of pain, still bleeding and I had a fever. And then I went a little mad. I thought I heard the door of the apartment open – and yelled out for my friend. He didn’t answer. I imagined that the rapist had found me again, and was coming back. When my friend finally arrived home, I begged him not to take me to a mental hospital. I was ranting like a crazy person that I was not crazy. My friend took me to my gynecologist instead.

I had a raging infection. A “foot” had been left in my womb. My doc performed a DNC; I was given blood transfusions and rather massive amounts of antibiotics. I was in the hospital for two weeks. Some of my visitors were the police (again) asking for the name of the abortionist (which they did not get).

The infection caused scar tissue in my fallopian tubes. I was unable to have children of my own. I adopted my beautiful baby many years later.

I don’t want a single other woman to have to endure what I went through — both physically and emotionally. My fear and sense of danger lurking outside my bedroom window lasted for ten years. My story is only one of so many/too many of those days when abortion was illegal, and women lost their lives and their fertility. Let this not happen to our country again.