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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 17. 19th July 1972

Iv ".... I Inserted a Piece of Coathanger and Just Kept Pushing...."

Iv ".... I Inserted a Piece of Coathanger and Just Kept Pushing...."

I got pregnant during the end of my senior year in high school. When I told Jim, he made it clear that he had no intention of giving up college to marry me and that I'd better get an abortion.

Is that what you wanted to do?

That was the first thing I thought of, but then I started thinking about the life growing in my body.... In the end, though, the thought of being an unwed mother was worse than the thought of an abortion, so I decided to try and get one.

Did you contact the abortionist?

Actually Jim was the one who found one. We grew up in a small town where the kids didn't even let on they were screwing, let alone know where to get abortions. There were only two doctors in our town and I didn't dare go to either of them; both were friends of my family and I knew the idea of an abortion would shock and repel them. Jim finally got a name from a guy he'd played against in a football game in Sacramento. Once he'd given me the phone number of the guy to contact, Jim said he'd fulfilled his obligations and the rest was up to me. He got a summer job in another town, and left.

How far along in your pregnancy were you?

I had missed two periods I guess about eight or nine weeks. I had read somewhere that after eight weeks an abortion got more and more dangerous, and I was getting very frightened. I went to a pay phone and called the number in Sacramento. A man answered and I told him I wanted to make an appointment to come and see him. He laughed in a weird way and said, since when did anyone need an appointment to visit a bar. That really threw me and I almost hung up. Then he asked me if I had a "problem" I'd like to talk to him about that he liked to help people with their problems. I told him I did want to talk to him and he said to come to the bar the next day. I told my parents I was going to take the bus to Sacramento to go shopping. . . .

Did your parents have any idea of what was happening?

No, and I was terrified that they would find out. I was sure they would have thrown me out and that my father would shoot Jim. My parents are very into their religion and it doesn't leave any room for the kind of "mistake" I had made. I was having terrible morning sickness, and when my mother began to notice, I started going into my bedroom closet every time I had to throw up. It was the only place I could go where no one would hear me.

What happened when you got to Sacramento?

I had a hard time finding the bar. It was in the skid row part of town, and I had to walk by the junkies and winos. By the time I found the bin, I was so frightened I was crying. I forced myself to go in, and sat on a stool. I sat there for a long time before the bartender came over. He asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted to talk about my "problem." lie really looked me over then. When he finished, he ashed me how old my "problem" was I told him, and he told me to come back to the bar that Saturday with $400 and he'd see that my "problem" was solved.

When I left the bar I felt so dirty and humiliated I didn't think I'd ever go back. But of course I did. The shame and guilt and fear about the abortion was still more bearable than the thought of facing my parents and that town as an unwed mother. It seems silly now; but for me, then, there really was no choice.

This time I took a taxi to the bar—I couldn't have faced walking those streets again. I sat at a table until the bar closed, and then the bartender came over and asked me if I had the money. I gave him the $400 I had saved for college. Then he took me to one of those third-rate hotels—it looked like the kind where rooms are rented by the hour. When we got up to the room, he told me to take off my clothes and get onto the bed. I asked him where the doctor was. He told me the doctor would be there in a few minutes but that I had to be "prepared" first. I told him I didn't want to get undressed in front of him, but he said if I didn't cooperate, I wouldn't get the abortion. So I got undressed and lay down on the bed. As soon as I lay down he came over to the bed and told me to spread my legs so he could make the preparations. The next thing I knew, that bastard had thrust as much of his hand as would fit into my vagina. I started screaming, and he slapped me hard across the face with his other hand. Then he covered my nose and mouth so I couldn't breathe and told me to shut up or he would rip my insides out. He took his hand out of my vagina, and all of a sudden he was raping me. I started screaming again, and he hit me and I fainted.

When I came to, there was another man bending over me. He had a rubber apron on over his T-shirt and a gauze mask over his Lee. I was so terrified I literally willed myself to die. When this man saw that I was conscious he started calmly explaining what he was about to do. It was so unreal—he was acting as though the rape and beating had never happened. I finally got myself to ask him to please give me a shot to stop the pain. He told me I didn't need a shot, that all I had to do was pant when he inserted the instrument (I don't remember what he called it) and I wouldn't feel any pain. He was a real sadist. He stuck the instrument in very slowly as though he was trying not to hurt me All of a sudden he gave it a hard twist. The pain was excruciating and I passed out again . . . When I woke up, I was lying in a pool of blood.

Was the "doctor" still there?

Yes He was sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed. We just stare' it each other for a while. Then I realized that I was numb from my waist down. That terrified me and sort of aroused me from my shock My change of expression seemed to be a signal to the doctor, for he got up from his chair, came over and put his hand on my forehead, and told me that I had been hemorrhaging and that he had given me a shot. Then he started sort of crooning and rubbing my forehead. When his words finally started penetrating my numbness and fright. I realized he was telling me that the abortion hadn't worked, that I would have to go through everything thing again as soon as I recovered From the hemorrhaging. He pointed to a bottle of pills and told me to take one every four hours He said I should stay in bed until I felt I could walk, and then go home. As he walked toward the door, he sort of turned and said something about I had been a bad girl but he would see me again anyway, and next time it would be free.

How long did you stay in the hotel?

I guess it was about 10 or 12 more hours. I couldn't stay longer or my parents would have wondered why I did't come home. I tried to get up a couple of times, but each time I sat tip I would start bleeding and would have to he down again. I was still lying in all that blood God, it was horrible. Finally, I was able to get up without bleeding wash and get dressed. The bus ride home was a nightmare, but somehow I made it to my room and collapsed....

I stayed in bed for two days, telling my mother that I was having bad menstrual cramps and keeping the room dark so she couldn't get a good look at me. I spent those two days thinking about what that in [unclear: rument] must have done to the fetus. I kept dreaming of malformed babies.... I was going crazy. Finally, I got up, got a piece of coathanger and sterilized it. Then I inserted it into my vagina and just kept pushing....

My mother found me the next morning. I had aborted but had almost bled to death. When they got me to the hospital, the doctors found that my uterus had been [unclear: puncrured] and infected and had to be removed. I was 17 years old, and I would never have a baby.