In 1963 I was a junior in high school. A good friend invited me to her house for the first time. She offered advice before we went in the front door.

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

“Don’t react and don’t saying anything. I trust you and I’ll explain later.”

I nodded okay and went into her house. My friend was the third oldest of 6 kids and a member of my Methodist Church and the MYF, Methodist Youth Fellowship.

When we entered she introduced me to her sisters and brothers and her mom. Her youngest sister Grace was 11 and what looked to me like a pregnant kid. Okay then. We went up to my friends bedroom. I asked if I could talk now and she said yes. I asked if Grace was pregnant and my friend said yes she was.

She told me that Grace had never even had a period but was seduced, raped, taken advantage of by an older teenage cousin. The family had talked to doctors about an abortion but they were illegal in 1963. Grace at 11 was sentenced to motherhood. This is the first time I remember hearing the word abortion ever. It is the exact moment I knew I would be pro-choice forever.

Grace died in childbirth. Her girl’s body wasn’t up to the task. I have no idea if the cousin was charged or what all the fallout was. The baby lived and was adopted. My friend swore me to secrecy, a promise I have kept until writing this.

We need to stop keeping secrets and to stop shaming abortion. Fifty odd years later this still makes me cry.

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