CBS News Correspondent “Haunted” By Lost Child

CBS network correspondent Bill Stout told the following story in the Los Angeles Times on February 16, 1976:

He discusses driving in traffic one day.

“Since there was plenty of time, it seemed logical to skip the freeway mess and loaf across the city on the side streets. Easy enough, until even that oozing pace of traffic squeezed to a dead stop because of an accident at the corner of Beverly and Vermont. There my eye caught the window of a second floor office, and it hit me like a knee to the groin.

That office, in a building I hadn’t even noticed in many years, was where I had taken my new bride for an abortion one blistering summer day in 1952. Suddenly I remembered….and I relived every detail….

[he describes learning that she was pregnant]

I had adopted her young son by a previous marriage, but this would be our first baby together, and I was delighted. Minutes later I was appalled, then infuriated, by her insistence that she would not go through with it. Even more hurtful, I suppose, in the callowness of that encounter so long ago, was that she had talked with several women friends before telling me anything. She already had the name of the doctor and was ready to make an appointment when I would be off from work to drive her to and from….She made the point hammered home today by the women’s pro-abortion groups; it was, after all HER body, and the DECISION should be hers and hers alone.

That was the most painful week of our marriage, until the final anguish (of divorce) many years later. Of course, she got her way. I dropped her at the curb of outside the doctor’s office….I remember his name. I can see the sign in his office as clearly as if were there now, just a few feet away….I never saw the man but I hated him then, and I do to this moment, even though he died long ago….

again and again, I have found myself wondering what that first one would have been like. A boy or a girl? Blonde or brunette? A problem or a delight? Whatever kind of person the lost one might have been, I feel even now that we had no right to take its life. Religion has nothing to do with that feeling. It was a “gut” response that overwhelmed me while stalled in the traffic that afternoon at Beverly and Vermont….

A few minutes later I was at my meeting in the Civic Center, in the office of an old friend, luckily, because by then I was in tears and they wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t easy but I finally told him how that glance at an office window had simply been too much for me, sweeping away a dam that had held for more than 20 years. If I am still wondering about that first one that never was, what about other men? How many of them share my haunted feelings about children who might have been?”

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