The Multi-Generation Impact of My Grandmother’s 1941 Abortion

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1 min read

I have a personal story to share with you. 

In 1941, my grandmother was abandoned by my grandfather. She had three small children and was pregnant with her fourth. She chose to have a back-alley abortion and died after suffering from sepsis. The three children were separated and farmed out to relatives and friends. In the post-Depression era, the families could not support more mouths to feed. And so they were separated and shuffled between different families and foster care. My mother was 10 years old. 

This history greatly impacted my life. My mother never recovered from her lack of roots, lack of maternal guidance and lack of love. She never attended the same school for more than one year. She was sent to different relatives in Minnesota, California and Mississippi. Her senior year in high school was spent at a boarding school in Mississippi, and after graduation, she had no home to go to. A classmate brought her to Chicago, where she met and married my father. 

The lack of reproductive health care in 1941 not only impacted my mother’s life, but also mine and my four siblings. Her instability, caused by her childhood, marked the lives of her five children. 

The lack of reproductive healthcare is a multigenerational nightmare. I am 71 years old, well beyond my reproductive years. I am fighting for my daughters and granddaughter. 

Featured image by Julie Frontera


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