Story No. 160: Dena from Colorado

In 1973, at the age of 26, I found myself pregnant. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, moved to a new town and gotten a job. In those days, a woman could be fired for being pregnant. Plus, motherhood was not an option for me.

Fortunately, Roe v. Wade had recently passed, so my abortion was provided by a professional, caring, respectful staff in a lovely facility. Two weeks later, I woke up on a Sunday with intense abdominal pain. My friend and I knew it was my appendix, because when we applied pressure and released suddenly, the pain exploded.

The hospital I went to was associated with the Catholic church, so I lied when they asked if I had had an abortion. As time went by, the pain got worse, and I became nervous and decided to confess.

Upon hearing the news, the three caregivers turned and walked out of the room. My friend reported that they began discussing the football game. I screamed that it was appendicitis and asked what would Jesus say if they let me die. They gave no response.

Later, a nurse came to request a urine sample. At that point, I was on my hands and knees crying with the pain of peritonitis setting in and could not satisfy her request.

Although I got to the hospital between 9 and 9:30 a.m., the gynecologist didn’t examine me until noon. He said to get me into the operating room, because my lady parts were fine.

They gave me drugs and I passed out. Since the only operating room was in use, they didn’t operate until 6:30 p.m. My body did not recover well, and they almost had to open me up again because of fluid accumulation.

The head of the hospital came to visit me, which I thought strange.Three months later I learned from a nurse that they had given me a 50-50 chance of survival.

I am not comfortable mixing religion with health care. I believe that “pro-life” people are largely pro-fetus and extraordinarily judgmental. I had life and it was not cherished.