Wednesday, June 01, 2005
One way of telling the story begins in 1980, with a 30-year-old counselor named Charlotte Taft. Ms. Taft was two years into her tenure directing the Routh Street abortion clinic in Dallas, Texas when, feeling enthusiastic, she decided to draw up a questionnaire for patients coming in for their two-week checkups.
"I wanted to know if patients were afraid to be intimate sexually and emotionally after a procedure, and did they feel adequately protected from another intended pregnancy? So I asked a lot of open-ended questions," recalls Taft, now 54 and a counselor in private practice in Glorieta, New Mexico.
"I was shocked by how many who seemed fine during the procedure were now having thoughts and feelings that no one had anticipated." The biggest thing she noted was that women felt sadder than they had anticipated. "They wondered, 'How can I feel sad about something I chose?'"
Abortion patients get more counseling than those undergoing any other medical procedure -- and still, Taft found, it was not safe for women to talk about abortion in their lives.
"Number one, it was supposed to be a secret," says Taft. "So these women had no idea who else in their lives had gone through this experience. Number two, we don't have good language even today for making a good, but complex, decision. Third, some women felt that if they said anything, it was ammunition to remove the right to choose. You either said you were fine or admitted you were a murderer."