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The testimony two weeks ago of U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee, Cori Bush and Pramila Jayapal was a profoundly wrenching call for more honesty about abortion, now that Roe v. Wade is threatened. Approximately one in four American women has had an abortion but we generally don’t share this information. As the Congress women noted, this silence can lead to stigma even among pro-choice women (and men).

Although the 1973 passage of Roe should have helped reduce abortion stigma, I am not sure it did. For over three decades, as I taught hundreds of women at Cornell, I kept my own counsel that I was someone who had not one, but two abortions. Because of the timing of my reproductive difficulties — after the passage of Roe — I was never a law breaker; never in any clinical danger; and I thought it best to be discreet and not share my story.

In 1976, I was a 32 -year-old mother writing a Ph.D. dissertation. I felt sick for almost a month, and went to a small town internist who thought I might have an ulcer from the stress of my work. (This was his diagnosis not mine: I was well aware of the Victorian medical idea that intellectual work strained the female nervous and reproductive systems contributing to infertility.)

The doctor ordered a stomach X-ray and then a careless tech X-rayed me without a shield. A week later, an over-the-counter test indicated that I was pregnant. And then a sophisticated woman gynecologist in Rochester explained the risk caused by those X-rays. My husband and I decided to terminate the pregnancy. I knew we were taking a proactive position against the possibility of deformity and it was a rational, easy and legal thing to do at that moment.

In 1992, at age 48, I found myself pregnant again. This was shocking and upsetting. I was already a grandmother and a tenured professor of women’s studies, author of two books about girls and their bodies and I had an active career on the academic lecture circuit. My husband and I feared pregnancy at my age, and agreed that I needed an abortion. But, even in the age of Roe, I ran into a problem. My allegedly full-service feminist ob-gyn would not even say the word “abortion.” It still rankles me that, in this liberal college town, she kept repeating this mantra: “I do not do that procedure. I do not do that procedure.” (So much for the acceptance and accessibility of abortion even two decades after Roe.)

I then called my primary care physician (PCP) who agreed that pregnancy at 48 was probably not recommended and she suggested that I get myself over to Planned Parenthood which had an excellent clinic for women’s health. Although I was treated with respect at Planned Parenthood there was a requirement then that all abortion patients had to have counseling beforehand. Certain of the rightness of our decision in our circumstances, and unhappy about being nauseous while teaching, my PCP helped me find a local gynecologist in private practice who quickly performed the desired abortion and a tubal ligation.

I was fortunate: both my abortions were medically-advised , legal procedures. Both decisions were made together with a physician and my husband. I had no lingering emotional upset or trauma as anti-abortion zealots claim. But I did have trouble talking about being a “double aborter” because it might be construed as irresponsible sexual behavior or using abortion as birth control.

Despite my academic feminist career, I did battle with a very real and palpable social stigma that led to silence not frank discussion. As a result, I failed to educate the way Congresswomen Lee, Booker and Jayapal did so effectively last week. I realize now that I missed my chance to promote the fact that the right to abortion is the single most important building block for improving American women’s health, especially for women of color. The articulate voices of these brave Democratic women provoked my memories and, I admit, a few tears — not for regret of two terminations, but for my good fortune to have escaped giving birth that was medically unwise. Roe made control of my own body possible, and I should have told my students.

Joan Jacobs Brumberg is Professor Emerita at Cornell University and the author of The Body Project and Fasting Girls.

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