"I've seen the face of a pre-Roe v. Wade world, it isn't pretty..."

by Bree Ervin | September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The following letter was sent to the Stop Patriarchy and is reprinted here with permission from Bree Ervin. Bree Ervin is a sexual health educator who works with adolescents and college students. She is a signer to the statement for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology.


I went to a high school in rural Colorado. The nearest abortion provider was 4½ hours away.

There was no women's clinic. We had to go to the regular family practitioners or the small local hospital for our services.

Patient/doctor confidentiality was routinely violated so that girls who got on birth control were slut-shamed at school the next day, teased and considered "open for business." My school was also one of the early adopters of abstinence-only sex education. (1993-1996).

One of my classmates was suspended for bringing a condom into sex-ed class!

Meanwhile, at the time that I was there, this town experienced the highest teen pregnancy rate in the continental USA!

Each year, over 10% of the girls at my school got pregnant...

Because of the lack of services for girls, and the lack of information provided to them about reducing their risk, these girls were left with tough choices.

I had more than one friend end up in the hospital recovering from serious injuries as a result of their attempts to end their pregnancies.

One friend's boyfriend beat her until she miscarried. One friend tried drinking bleach—she had heard it would end a pregnancy. It didn't, but it did almost take HER life.

Another friend tried the "coat hanger trick," thinking if it was "good enough" for our grandmothers, it was good enough for her. She punctured her uterus and will never be able to have children.

Many of my friends were thrown out of their homes and forced onto the streets, or into marriages with boys who became abusive because they resented being tied down by their "slut" girlfriends/wives. (Part of our abstinence-only education taught the boys that only sluts got pregnant, thus letting the fathers off the hook morally.)

Some of the girls who were forced to carry their pregnancies to term were also bullied into giving their children up for adoption—told that they weren't good enough to raise their own children. They are still haunted by this idea of personal worthlessness.

Many of the girls who carried to term and kept their children are still living in poverty, 20 years later, or are just now beginning to dig their way free, now that their children have become adults.

Many were trapped in abusive relationships for years until they found the strength, courage and support to leave.

Of the 24 girls who got pregnant my sophomore year, only two were able to raise the funds and take the time to travel to an abortion provider to get a safe, legal abortion. Of all of those girls, those two are doing the best now.

Even the ones who happily chose to carry to term may not have had to make that choice if they had had the information to prevent those pregnancies in the first place. Women need and deserve information—and access—without apology. And we shouldn't have to demand it, but we will if we must.

I've seen the face of a pre-Roe v. Wade world. It isn't pretty, and I won't go back.

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