One Woman's Story
The following unsolicited letter was received at the clinic. Minor revisions have been made to guard confidentiality.
Attending the 25th Anniversary of the Emma Goldman Clinic was a joyous experience for me. I looked around the crowd gathered on the Pentacrest, and I saw a lot of familiar faces, many now framed in gray. As the various speakers talked of serious matters in upbeat and positive language, the crowd was energized. The applause came more often, more heartily. I was proud to be at the rally, proud to be a member of the community that has, for the most part, supported and defended the clinic.
I was a teenager when the Emma Goldman Clinic was first proposed and came into fruition. It was a time of "free love." Though herpes and syphilis were possibilities, the biggest fear was pregnancy. Many of my friends saw the new clinic as a means of getting birth control. We found ourselves embarrassed to discuss it with our mothers, and shy and intimidated in the office setting of our mothers' ob-gyns. There were no female gynecologists in private practice at that time, no women's health clinics where young women could feel comfortable.
The idea of an "abortion clinic" in our community was not the way we saw the EGC. It was a women's health clinic that would offer abortions as one of many services. It wasn't a service any of us perceived needing, but one that many of us felt should be available. Of course some of us did end up needing this service. For many it seemed only a matter of time, for others an unwanted pregnancy came as a surprise.
I was twenty years old. I missed a period but thought nothing of it, after all, we'd been using birth control. But no form of birth control (except abstinence and sterilization) is foolproof. We fell in that small percentage of "failed efficiency."
I never considered having the baby. I was young, single and not financially secure. We'd been dating for several months, but what did that mean in those days? Our relationship was based more on sex than friendship, let alone love. I didn't even mention the situation to my boyfriend, or anyone else. I felt it was my decision to make, and I'd made it. I didn't know what my future would be, but I did have a pretty good idea of what lay ahead if I continued on with the pregnancy.
The women at the EGC gave me support, information, and a gentle environment. Walking home after the procedure, I felt I had made the first adult decision of my life, a responsible decision. After years of sexual encounters, I didn't reach this level of maturity until I had to face the consequences of those encounters.
The regrets I have in my life don't include abortion. I still believe it was the right decision. I know it was a decision to make. I'm certain that if it hadn't been for the Emma Goldman Clinic being available to me, I would have felt trapped and desperate. The result would have been a far different out come.
"No woman should ever have to apologize for having an abortion," and no clinic should ever have to apologize for providing a variety of safe services to women.
I thank all the people who dreamed of the Emma Goldman Clinic, and then made it a reality. I thank all the volunteers and staff who have kept the clinic going the past twenty-five years. I congratulate all those at the rally who realize the importance of continuing to support, educate and provide the community with the services given by the EGC.