How my mother’s womb almost became my grave.
Today I came across a photograph of a baby born at 23 weeks gestation, and my heart lurched. My birth mother Liz was 1 – 3 weeks further along in her pregnancy with me at the time she wrote a letter from an abortion clinic in London to her mother back home in South Africa (it was still illegal here in those days, so her mother – my maternal grandmother, my ‘mad Granny Monica’ – had flown her overseas with the express purpose of terminating the pregnancy). I have read and re-read this letter close to a million times since the day I met Liz, shortly after my 21st birthday back in 1995, when she gave me a scrapbook detailing ‘my past’. There is one sentence that gets me every time: “But you know, Mom, the final decision still depends entirely on me.” In other words, the clinic was still prepared to go through with the procedure at this stage of the pregnancy, had Liz so requested.
Thank God she chose to give me the gift of life, and my adoptive parents the gift of a daughter, instead.
I was born at full term 14.5 weeks later. And have survived thus far, to tell this tale!
This is a pic of the baby born at 23 weeks, and a copy of Liz’s letter which changed my previously pro-choice stance forever…
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