I became pregnant in the summer of 1969, twenty nine years old, with an IUD in place. I had two young daughters, by my first husband who had left the year before. I was entering a relationship with the man who became my second husband (until he died three years ago) but we were not yet married and we thought we could not get pregnant. This was in Massachusetts, the Boston area, and abortion was still illegal.I went back to the doctor who had placed the device ( I had had it for three years, I think) and asked him if he would remove it (thereby terminating the pregnancy). He jovially replied that he wouldn’t, but that a baby would born unharmed ”with an IUD clutched in his fist”. I think I understood then that he could not afford to remove the IUD under the circumstances of the law, and I knew he was helping a lot of women, many low-income, by giving them IUDs, which were fairly new then.
Then we started exploring our possibilities for an abortion, feeling that we had quite enough to deal with without having another child at that time (he also had a young son in his first marriage). We contacted Bill Baird, an abortion rights activist, who subsequently spent some time in jail for his activism in Massachusetts, and found that we needed to go to Montreal for the abortion. We made the appointment and made our arrangements, being able to have it done within the safer three month pregnancy time period (I had always been able to tell fairly accurately when I ovulated and when I was pregnant).
But in the meantime, I started to bleed and called my IUD doctor, who told me to come right in to the hospital he was connected to. I was wheeled in in good time and given a “D&C”. While lying there, I was told that the IUD was imbedded in the wall of my uterus and that it had almost perforated the uterus wall. I then realized something profound: that my life and welfare, and the lives of other women, were not very important to society at large, and I think I became radicalized at that point, and have so continued since. (I also made the mistake of flippantly asking the nursing crew ”if this was an abortion?”, which was followed by a shocked silence, and my realizing that I might have exposed the doctor in some way).
We married eight months later, and had another child two years later.