My mother was given the medical attention she required to survive the miscarriages she experienced in 1950s America. My mom might be deemed a criminal in 2022 in certain regions of the United States.
After three months, the Dobbs verdict still sends shockwaves through the community. I sat in stunned silence with the lines on the screen before me blurring when I first saw my phone light up informing me that the Supreme Court had overruled Roe vs. Wade. I knew this decision was coming, but the news alerts scrolling down my phone’s screen were still incomprehensible. It took a few seconds for it to sink in that neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post, CNN, or the Daily News had made a mistake. In any case, everything had come to pass.
My first thought was of my loved ones. Six of my grandchildren are female. It’s hard to shake the negative associations associated with the number four. The statistic that one in four American girls under the age of 18 has been sexually abused is something I have to face with a heavy heart. And I know that in the following days, tales about more raped and shattered kids who have had their childhoods stolen by their adult guardians and whose goals and ambitions have been replaced by forced parenting will surface in my newsfeed.
Rapid-fire remarks like “I went to bed in 2022 and woke up in the 1950s” flooded my social media the day following the ruling. These posters clearly have no idea that reproductive health care for certain American women in 2022 is less advanced than it was in the 1950s.
A month or so after the verdict was handed down, I heard about Amanda, a lady who suffered a miscarriage and was treated in a hospital in Texas. She had a dilation and curettage (D&C), which is done when a pregnancy isn’t viable and the mother’s life is in danger from complications including hemorrhage, infection, or even sepsis. Following that, the employees left a message and a token of their condolences to her.
The same hospital discharged Amanda without treatment when she suffered a second miscarriage a few months later. In anguish, she dug her nails into the bathroom wall and stayed in the tub for hours, sobbing beside her husband while the water became dark crimson.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my own childhood and upbringing when I read Amanda’s account. Mom was born in 1928, so she was a young adult at the time when many American women left the workforce to return to the house after World War II. Mom felt most at home with her family and friends at home, and she loved the 1950s American emphasis on domestic life.
An adult me once inquired as to her childhood aspirations. My question’s underlying meaning was clear to both of us: hadn’t she desired more? She greeted me with a warm smile and a direct gaze, saying, “All I ever wanted was to be a mother.” She dove herself into parenthood, showering my brother and me with a fierce love that provided us with a sense of safety and stability.
But in 1950, only a year after she tied the knot, she miscarried. With the passage of time, she was able to shake her deep depression and try again. The second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Years later, with her head lowered, she revealed to me that following each loss, the doctor had conducted a dilation and evacuation. She kept that fact to herself as if it were some sort of personal defect. It was a source of great relief to me that she had access to this life-saving treatment.
In 1951, Mom’s wish came true and her delight had no bounds when her son was born. Then, in 1954, when she was pregnant for the fourth time, Mom started showing all the classic symptoms that she was going to miscarry again. Her father rushed her to the gynecologist, who verified her fears that she was miscarrying.
Mom fought off the D&C this time, saying she could still feel life. The doctor smiled and nodded at my dad, patting her hand, before granting her a few weeks to “come to terms.” She was regarded as a spoilt brat since she was born during an era when women couldn’t get mortgages or credit cards. Lucky for me, her “miracle kid,” she was correct and not the doctor. Mom always knew the right time to call it.
Similarly to women elsewhere, when given the chance, they will choose what is best for themselves.
The example of Mom shows why we can’t rest until we have the freedom to make our own decisions. For the simple reason that in certain areas of the United States in 2022, my mother — the perfect mother in every way — would be viewed like a criminal while in other places she would be treated like she had committed a crime. And many Amandas in 2022 America could conclude they’ve tried as hard as they can and give up.
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