We remember the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a look back on what it was like before the landmark Supreme Court decision, which affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.
Dr. Lee Lee Doyle is a long-time Arkansas supporter of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. She remembers working in the OBGYN department as a researcher at the University of San Francisco in the 1960’s.
Dr. Doyle distinctly remembers “Tijuana Tuesdays”, a term coined by medical staff.
“Tijuana Tuesdays happened because many of the young women would go to Tijuana to get an abortion and then come back to the hospital with bad infections,” Dr. Doyle remembered.
“Women will always get abortions and attempt abortions on themselves whether they lived or not. That is so well documented.”
While Dr. Doyle vividly remembers the gruesome outcomes when abortion wasn’t safe and legal in the United States, she is focused on sharing her story and supporting advocacy in hopes of younger generations understanding what’s at stake when access to sexual and reproductive health care is under attack.
“I think the thing I want young people to know is , it’s not just a message about abortion. It’s about our lives living as people. If I can have my belief, you can have yours,” Dr. Doyle said.
Dr. Doyle’s story is a window to the past. But Stephanie West’s story is a glimpse into the importance of keeping abortion safe, legal, and accessible today, 44 years after Roe v. Wade. We decided to share Stephanie’s story in her own words:
I passed a sign once that said, “Abortion death. Birth life.”
For me, death was my plan B to an abortion.
I was 22, living back home with my parents and in the worst part of a year and a half long bipolar episode when I saw “pregnant” show up on the test.
I was on birth control but had recently been on an antibiotic. I was also on Lithium for my bipolar disorder. I knew right away that I wanted to get an abortion. Not only was I not capable of even taking care of myself at that time, but a baby born while the mother is on Lithium has a huge risk of major birth defects.
After researching my options, I found out the only place to go would be 3 hours away and that I couldn’t go by myself. I had $100 in the bank at that time and the guy wanted nothing to do with me after I told him I was pregnant. I was all alone and scared. I researched ways to give myself an abortion at home and after failed attempts of taking a high dose of Vitamin C and birth control pills, I found myself thinking of ways to commit suicide.
I broke down and told my mom. She was amazing and said she would take me and pay for it.
The actual abortion was far less traumatic than I had prepared myself for. When they showed me the ultrasound, I could barely see anything. The procedure was pretty quick and with the exception of some cramping, was basically painless.
I was more nervous to go to a follow up appointment than anything. I didn’t have insurance and was scared of how I would be treated when they found out why I was there. Luckily, I was able to go to Planned Parenthood where I was treated with such compassion and felt so supportive.
I’ve never once regretted my decision. My abortion really saved my life.