Martha Barrett

It has only been within the past couple of years that I have really begun to deal with the memory of my abortion that happened almost 39 years ago. I was 15 at the time and living in Oklahoma City. I ended up having my abortion in Tulsa, where I live now. It was my mom who wanted me to have the abortion.
When my mom first suggested I have an abortion I thought it was illegal, and when I said so, my mom replied, "No it's not, not anymore." I got a sick feeling in my stomach when she said that, because I knew I would have no real argument for not having one if it were legal. My mom was a registered nurse and had worked in obstetrics for many years. She told me that there wasn't any facilities in OKC that performed abortions, and that the closest place to get one was in Tulsa. At that news I was hopeful that I wouldn't have to get one, but she scheduled an appointment for me and we made the trip to Tulsa, along with my dad and younger brother. My mom told my two older brothers that she was going to Tulsa for a job interview. I have come to realize that what my mom told me was also a lie. It hit me about a year ago that the real reason she took me to Tulsa was because she didn't want to risk the possibility of someone in the medical community finding out that her daughter had gotten pregnant and had an abortion. When we got to the clinic I was hoping that someone there would help me by providing me with options besides abortion. We were met by a woman in an office who I can only assume was the director of the facility. I remember asking her how far developed the baby was (I was about 10/11 weeks gestation) she hesitated as she looked at my mom, "It's just a mass of cells about the size of a grape," she replied. At that I turned to my mom for confirmation, and she said nothing. She knew that what that woman just told me was a lie and SHE SAID NOTHING! I now know that the term "grape" was intentionally used to plant an image in my mind of something that had no human form or likeness. I then remember noticing one of those plastic models of the female organs sitting on a shelf, and I thought to myself, "If they really wanted to be accurate that model would show a baby in that uterus." Soon, a lady came to escort me to a waiting room. As I entered the room I noticed a window on the opposite wall, so I walked over and pulled the blinds away to look out the window. For years I blocked out of my mind what it was I saw. When I first started this journey I tried desperately to remember what it was, but to no avail. I knew that whatever it was, it was significant. I do know that after I looked out that window all I wanted to do was get out of that place, but I was paralyzed by fear. Where would I go? What if someone saw me leaving? My mom would be so mad when she realized I was gone! Soon another girl came into the room and sat down, so I sat down too. She proceeded to tell me how she was 20 years old, married, and having her second abortion! She said that she and her husband were both attending college and weren't ready to have kids. You might think that hearing this would calm my fears, but it only served to make me want to get out of there all the more. I was horrified. I knew I didn't want to become like her. And I simply could not fathom that someone who was married would have an abortion. Eventually, a woman came to lead me to the operating room. The doctor was waiting at the door and she and my escort motioned for me to enter. I stopped short at the doorway and looked around for a possible exit. I wanted desperately to run, but felt trapped. What would they do if I did? Would they try stop me? And if so, would I be able to escape their grasp? I wondered where my mom was, why wasn't she here? Hesitantly, I walked into the room and was instructed to undress from the waist down. The doctor gave me an injection into my cervix for pain. Then she opened my cervix by inserting a series of rods. Then turning on the machine she began to suction out my uterus. At this point I knew there was no turning back. Was there ever? Towards the end of the procedure I remember the doctor saying, "That's what I was looking for." I wondered what she was referring to, but I didn't really want to know. All I knew was that my baby was gone. I remember it was the weekend before the last week of school, which, when I checked the calender, puts it right on Memorial Day weekend (how ironic, huh?) What's even more ironic is that my mom died the day after Memorial Day in 2003. There are so many things I have recollected, realized and discovered about my abortion experience that are so surreal. It seems that once these revelations start coming, they become like a flood. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with grief and disbelief at what happened.
One of the things I discovered after doing a little research is that the building where I had the abortion is still occupied by Planned Parenthood. Except they no longer perform abortions there. I went to the library to look at old phone books and found a listing for a Planned Parenthood office for that year. I drove to the address and as I pulled into the parking lot and looked at the building I suddenly realized, "This is it! This is the building!" I had driven by that building many times but had never recognized it for what it was. As I drove around the building I began to recognize the layout of the floors. It seemed smaller than what I remembered, but I knew this was it. Like I said earlier, I had blocked out of my mind whatever it was I had seen when I looked out that window. I looked for the window I remembered standing at and when I spotted it I looked across the street to see what it was I saw that day, and I was stunned. Suddenly it was confirmed I was in the right place because of what I saw -- a huge cemetery, with headstones as far as the eye could see. I was surrounded by death that day, and death had won. Or so it seemed. In the end I know that I have hope, for I know the One who has conquered death, and the grave. And through His blood I know I have the victory. I also know that even though I didn't realize it at the time, He was walking with me through it all.         

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