May 22nd, 2012 § 10 Comments
We’ve been talking to a reader who knew Paula and has some insights into the availability of illegal abortions in Cedar Rapids in 1970. Here’s what she has to say:
[A friend] and I both found ourselves pregnant and single at about the same time and were given possible ‘solutions’ along with names of CR abortionists. However, we both got married and were in each others weddings (I had my daughter in April, she had a son in December). These were things we talked about…. and shuddered over…. and as happens, generally knew what others in the same situation did…
My personal take on it was that Paula was not pregnant. Relatives and other adults in positions of assistance may not have been consulted, but friends would know… we knew how things are at that age… gasps and panic over a missing period or two, phone calls agonizing over what to do. Running out in the middle of the night for a medical rendezvous? Unlikely. But all of this gets back to how difficult it was to get an abortion or even ask around in Cedar Rapids… unless you had some connections to the sleazoid underbelly of a basically clean cut, ” wholesome” midwest area. Usually, people opted for marriage or adoption, but a little black baby would have been unwelcome for either. And Paula wanted a modeling career…
You mentioned the Allison (ugh) hotel, and that’s what made me think. Woman, mid-40′s, no credentials, [she] would make appointments there. [I] wasn’t interested and have no idea of her name. Second possibility was an optometrist, downtown office… [I] stopped by. Atrocious creep, 50-60 yrs old, one syllable last name. He made it clear he expected sexual favors plus money. A girlfriend from work (I worked part-time at Bishop’s) told me about him. She opted out and had her baby in Davenport, then put him up for adoption. Third possibility was a Waterloo doctor… lived on Prospect Ave in Waterloo… wall plaque said he got his diploma at Lausanne, Switzerland. Asked for $250. He performed abortions in his clinic & called them D & Cs. He was later arrested when a prostitute died after an abortion with him. I lucked out by being “too far along.” Though I remember obscure details, I don’t remember how I was directed towards him. But I DO know, my closest friends knew about my dilemma. And I also know that you don’t run out casually the way Paula did for a last-minute procedure.
This whole concept of back-alley was not in an alley, near a dumpster or any such thing. Most had offices and encouraged a friend to come along. If it was at a hotel/motel like Allison or Unique, you got a room in your own name & made arrangements to stay the night, if possible, after a daytime abortion. If you went to an office, you had someone (contemporary) drive you home. There were no nighttime calls of ”come here quick & get it done.”
I think there is a tendency of some people to deduce that she somehow deserved it if she was indeed pregnant and seeking abortion. I doubt she was pregnant, but even if she might have suspected she was, I hate the whole idea of victimizing the victim.
So do we.
Another reader has asked: “Where and when did the abortion story surface anyway?”
We’re looking into that now and will post a response soon.
Meanwhile, we’d love to know what you think.