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Roe v. Wade hits home with mePosted Friday, January 18, 2008, at 9:31 AM
There isn't an issue that I'm more impacted with morally and politically than abortion.
My story is personal and real and each year in late January I am reminded of the implications a historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling may have played in my life -- had I been born 20 years later -- instead of in 1953.
Last Tuesday, we observed the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court decision that was challenge to a Texas statute that made it a crime to perform an abortion unless a woman's life was at stake.
The case had been filed by "Jane Roe" an unmarried woman who wanted to safely and legally ender her pregnancy.
On January 22, 1973, siding with Roe, the High Court struck down the Texas law. In its ruling, the court recognized for the first time that the constitutional right to privacy "is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy (Roe v. Wade, 1973)."
Roe became the case that legalized abortion nationwide.
At the time the decision was handed down, nearly all states outlawed abortion except to save a woman's life or for limited reasons such as preserving the woman's health, or instances of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.
Getting back to my story.
I was born April 25, 1953 to an unmarried woman in an Indianapolis home for unwed mothers.
We hear a lot these days in the post-Roe vs. Wade era about "choice" but most of the times it's associated with a woman's choice to have an abortion
My natural mother made the "choice" to give me up for adoption. Since I have never met my natural mother -- despite a somewhat limited search for her after my adopted parents passed away, I don't know the circumstances she was facing when she found out that she was going to have a baby.
For the decision she made, I am forever grateful.
And, I am also more than thankful that Roe v. Wade hadn't been passed yet.
If Roe v. Wade had been enacted, it would have paved the way for my mother to take the easy way out and make the "choice" to opt for abortion.
Getting an abortion in the year 1953 wasn't as easy as walking into a government-financed abortion clinic -- like it is today. There was also a definite social stigma attached to a young girl who got pregnant out of wedlock.
Pregnancies happened in 1953 just like today, but with abortion being illegal, many young girls with some strict parental guidance made the decision -- like my natural mother did -- to think about other alternatives.
My natural mother decided to go to a St. Elizabeth's Home, a Catholic Church operated home for unwed mothers, -- to carry out her pregnancy, deliver a young son and then put him up for adoption.
I was adopted into a wonderful loving home at the age of six weeks. My adopted parents are the only parents I ever knew. My adopted father passed away unexpectedly with a heart attack when I was just five years old. My adopted mother assumed the role of both parents and worked tirelessly -- many times with two jobs -- to support me and provide me with the opportunities that she never had.
My adopted parents were wonderful.
I was told by my mother years later when I was in high school that bringing me into their home fulfilled a dream of theirs of having a family that they medically could not make happen.
She often reminded me that because I was adopted, I was truly wanted in the family. The love I was given validated that feeling to me many, many times.
However, I often think about and pray for my natural mother and natural father.
I wonder where they are, or if they are still alive.
Being an only child, I wonder if my birth mother had other children later in her life that might be my half-siblings.
I wonder how things would have turned out in my life -- had my natural mother decided to keep me and raise me as her own.
I also think about how things would have turned out if Roe vs. Wade had passed prior to my birth.
Would I be here to even be writing this today?
Would my birth mother have made the right "choice"?
I don't know.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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