Although the details are rather fuzzy, I do remember how I felt when I decided to terminate an unwanted pregnancy at age 19. It was 1972, and Roe v. Wade would not pass until the next year, although I was completely unaware of the national debate on this issue. I was a full-blown alcoholic, yet even in my muddled mind, I knew becoming a parent would be a disaster for me, and especially for a child in my care.
I also knew I could not tell my Mother but, although I was not close to my Father, he had recently remarried and his new wife was really cool. I felt like my best bet was to ask them for help. My Father was a doctor who had his own practice, but he also worked for a group of physicians who were staunchly Catholic & would have fired him had they known what he was going to do for me.
[My father] approached Dr. Knight, who performed illegal abortions in pre-Roe v. Wade New Orleans. An alias was created for me…Lisa LaTour, an ophthalmologist’s daughter from Opelousas, Louisiana. The fee was even waived as a professional courtesy!
My father emptied his pockets of all identification and drove me to my appointment. I remember that it was a little blue house, under an overpass in the suburbs of New Orleans. It must have been early evening because my last glance back at my Father is forever burned into my memory. He was sitting in the car trying to read a newspaper by the light of the streetlamp. It was sad and scary.
When I entered the building, I remember that it seemed just like a regular doctor’s office, complete with a nurse in a starched white uniform, cap and thick white stockings. I must have been “acting up” because I remember that Dr. Knight said to me, “Did you see the black woman who was in here before you?” When I said yes, he said, “Well, she had to take three busses to get here & she will take three more to get home.” I gathered that he was telling me how “lucky” I was….a true Daughter of Privilege.
I remember that it was painful and I was terrified. I don’t remember much more of the procedure. My father and his new wife took me into their home and nursed me through the complications that ensued. Although this was not a pleasant memory, I am grateful that I had help to arrange my termination in those years before our government finally passed the law to help ALL women.
Daughters of Privilege will always have access to procedures of their choice. I have never regretted my decision because, as I tell young women now, it was “the first adult decision I had to make,” and it was the right decision.
I am now sober 30 years, but I did not quit drinking until I was 31. I know in my heart that a child brought into that life would have been in a very dangerous situation and, again, even though I did not go on to have a family, I DO NOT REGRET THE DECISION!