Forced Births in the Bad Old Days
By Mijita @ Daily Kos
Judy was born in 1950 to an Irish Catholic family. When she was 12 her uncle began molesting her.
Like a lot of girls of that time, Judy didn’t understand sex, or what was happening to her. She liked the attention, but felt ashamed and couldn’t talk to her mother. At 13 she started getting sick, not just in the mornings, but all day long. Her mother took her to the doctor, and she learned she was pregnant.
As the doctor and her mom questioned her the truth came out. Judy remembers the doctor being very kind, and as he left he asked the nurse to “talk to her mother.” The nurse told them there was an option to childbirth. Judy’s mother felt that would be the right thing, but wanted to pray about it.
So they went to their parish priest, where her mother tearfully recounted what happened, and warned that if her husband found out, he would kill her brother. She also told the priest about the “other option.”
The priest, who had been kind and comforting, now turned harsh. He warned that abortion was both illegal and a mortal sin. It could not be considered.
And he told Judy that if her father learned of the molestation and hurt or killed her uncle, she would be responsible.
The priest then announced that Judy would be sent to a St. Anne’s, a home for unwed mothers in a city fifty miles away. She would have her baby and give it up for adoption.
Judy was terrified. She didn’t want to have a baby and she didn’t want to be sent away. She cried and begged her mother to let her stay at home. The priest said there was nothing else they could do and that it would be alright.
That night, Judy waited upstairs as her mother told her father the news. He yelled at her mom but never asked how she had gotten pregnant. And in fact, Judy wasn’t entirely sure — her body and sex were outside her understanding.
After the conversation Judy began pleading to see the nurse who had promised to help because she did not want to leave her home. When that failed she threw herself down the stairs, trying to kill herself or the baby. She only broke her arm.
She was sent to St. Anne’s. But because she was suicidal she was not permitted above the ground floor, was not allowed anything long or sharp, and was watched all the time.
But one day she heard some of the girls talking about self-abortion. Desperate, she tried pushing her hand as far inside herself as she could. When she was caught she was made to sleep tied to the bed. And because she was sick, she was kept in bed for most of the last two months.
Giving birth without her mother, in pain and among strangers was agony. She screamed so much that the doctor finally put her under. When she woke up the baby – a boy – was gone. She told the nurses she didn’t want to see him.
After she recovered and went home the pregnancy was never spoken of. And she never felt close to her mother again.
Judy left home the week she graduated from high school, moving as far away from her family as she could get. She never returned and never spoke to them again. She even missed her parents’ funerals.
Her son eventually contacted her through an attorney, but she refused to see him. She didn’t want to tell him he was the product of child rape, incest and forced birth. “Whatever he thinks can’t be as bad at the truth,” she said.
As terrible as the molestation had been, Judy feels that being forced to give birth against her will was far worse. And something, she believes, she will never get over.
She worries about the trend in politics today against contraception and abortion. She does not want other girls to undergo her ordeal.
As Judy told me, “Never, ever again.”
This edited piece was originally posted on Daily Kos and reprinted with permission. Go here to see the full original version.