My mother and I had a relationship with lots of ups and downs. I loved her dearly, and she drove me bat shit insane. She was a beautiful woman, and an "interesting creature", according to my father in law, the retired psychiatrist.
Though many of the things she tried to teach me ran through my mind like a sieve, one lesson stands out because it was one of the few times that she let down the wall that protected her ability to show her vulnerable side.
I had friends that working in women's health care when I was at Ohio State. One of them gave me a bumper sticker that said "Keep Abortion Legal" and under that it said "Keep it Safe" and "Keep it Rare". So I stuck it on my car. My parents had always talked openly about why a woman should have a right to chose, so my mindset developed along their thinking.
When my mother saw the bumper sticker she asked where I got it. I thought the next thing out of her mouth was going to be to remove it from the car.
"Look, there are a lot of people out there," she paused.
I thought I knew what was coming next; but I wasn't ready for what came next. Instead, she lowered that wall of invulnerability.
"...don't know what it was like for woman back then. A girl would get in trouble and if her family had money they could send her away. If a girl wanted to keep the baby, then she could get into a Salvation Army Hospital. But if she was in trouble and couldn't keep the baby, she had to go to Youngstown."
My mother had left north central Ohio in 1946 and moved to Cleveland where she was a registered nurse. She eventually met a man and got married and a couple years later, they divorced. But she worked as a nurse and in doctors offices until she married my father.
"Why Youngstown?" I asked.
"Because thats where people (from Cleveland) went when they needed something that they couldn't get in Cleveland. Like liquor that the state didn't sell, or dope or pills," she paused, almost as if her need to tell this story was exposing too much of her soul.
"Anyway, people knew people who would take care of girls in trouble. You couldn't ask your doctor because it was a crime. The mob would hire these men to do it. And someone always knew of someone who knew someone. But it was always Youngstown."
"You see these black cars would drive out from Youngstown on Friday and they would pick girls up from certain businesses - one week it was a hotel, the next the back room of a dress shop. It always changed because they didn't want to be found out," Mom explained.
"On Sunday the cars came back and dropped the girls by a bus stop. If we were lucky, they'd call the doctors office after the fact and we'd get them in and make sure they weren't mutilated by those creeps."
She explained that after the fact, no doctor would turn a girl in - it was too late, or what was the point of making them suffer more?
"But if they waited until the pain was too bad, or worse someone found them when the septic shock set it, it was too late. We'd get the call from the hospital that 'so and so' was dead, and we had just seen her a month ago and, well, people today just don't know what it was like then."
"There mothers would call the office, crying - why hadn't the doctor told them to talk to their mothers? But sometimes it was the mother who arranged for the procedure."
"And then there were the girls who thought that they were lucky got through it with no infection. But years later they would come in with their husbands and want to know why they kept miscarrying. The doctors had to be very careful and counsel them that a "previous injury" - code for abortion - could prevent them from being mothers like they dreamed now that they were ready."
Then, in a rare demonstration of caring she said "Be careful. You're right on this. No girl should ever have to go through what we heard about or saw. These men don't get it because they never saw the wreckage, just the pretty pure girl."
And then back in her shell she went - to a place that was safe for her. And I can tell you that I loved my mother more after she told me that than I did before.
Why am I telling you this? Because Texas is again trying to turn the clock back on Abortion Rights, even in cases of rape or incest. In Ohio, the Republican legislature is requiring ALL doctors counselling women who are considering an abortion that abortion "leads to an increased chance of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer" even when there is absolutely no scientific proof from any leading hospital or research program to this effect. If this astounds you, think about, a state legislature is mandating that a medical doctor violate his or her Hippocratic oath by lying to a patient. This puts the doctor malpractice insurance to risk as well because it is quackery.
No woman I have ever know who has had an abortion has ever discounted the procedure with a laugh or described it as a caprice or a whim. But for those who had the procedure, it was a decision that they made, and they didn't have to be afraid that they were breaking the law, and they certainly didn't have to face an uncertain future after being dropped off at a bus stop in a black car after the procedure was done.
If YOU don't like abortion, then don't have one. If you are a man who is Hellbent to save these "precious lives", then do us all a favor - get a hold of your sons, your brother and your friends and start at the root cause of an abortion - that male, his penis and his sex drive. Because if you get that man or boy to do what's responsible instead of pushing his penis and sexual agenda onto and into a woman that solves most of the problem right there.
Men need to learn, if you are going to legislate morality, start with "controlling your sexual need to spread your seed" before you take it out on a woman's right to choose.