Woman regrets her abortions on her death bed

The following story was told in the Journal of American Culture:

“In the small Idaho ranching community where I grew up there was an old woman, the matriarch of one of the wealthier ranching families, who had had a number of illegal abortions in addition to several children. When she was dying in the hospital, her last words, whispered to one of the nurses, were `Oh, all those little babies! I’m so sorry. What can I tell them? Will they forgive me?”‘

Helen Susan Edelman, “Safe to Talk: Abortion Narratives as a Rite of Return,” Journal of American Culture 19, no. 4 (1996)

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Secret abortions haunted her on her deathbed

The story of a woman whose secret abortions haunted her:

… I recall a story my mother shared with me when coming onto my puberty. She told me that my paternal grandmother on her deathbed was quite frightened of dying. She confessed to my mother, who attended her passing, that she was “afraid to meet all her dead babies on the other side.” It seems Grandma had induced several abortions which were secrets kept from family and friends alike. At death’s door, Grandma confronted her previous liasions with mortality and murder, carrying this hidden fear for years.

secret abortions
End of first trimester

That story made a strong impression on me, as I had been taught through the popular “planned parenthood” information materials that abortion was more like a tooth extraction than murder. A little painful, but not such a moral crisis. How could this be true when Grandma carried that guilt all her life? I couldn’t imagine similarly repenting my dentistry operations upon my deathbed.

Jeannine Parvati Baker “THE SWORD WAS NOT WITH THE GODDESS: A SPIRITUAL MIDWIFE ADDRESSES THE NEED TO HEAL ABORTION” Feminism & Nonviolence Studies Fall 1998 – Special Issue on Spiritual Diversity

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