The executive editor for the Los Angeles Times revealed in an Op-Ed on Sunday that he helped his then-girlfriend get an illegal “botched” abortion.
In the Op-Ed titled “Men cannot be silent on abortion rights,” Norman Pearlstine explained that he and his then-girlfriend, Charlene, were 19 years old and students at Haverford when they discovered she was pregnant.
The two sought an abortion in the suburbs of Philadelphia in 1962 before the passage of Roe v. Wade.
Pearlstine said he felt compelled to tell his story because he thinks it’s “important to remind myself and to tell others what life was like before Roe vs. Wade.”
He describes how one of Charlene’s dorm mates recommended an osteopathic physician who would perform a stealthy abortion since the procedure was still illegal.
“A friend in her dorm finally referred us to an osteopath who worked out of a shabby office in one of south Philadelphia’s rougher neighborhoods. He wanted $500, equal today to $4,200 when adjusted for inflation,” Pearlstine wrote.
https://t.co/DA991ZCSKS. A personal piece on college days, abortion, and the silence of pro-choice men.
— Norman Pearlstine (@NPearlstine) June 16, 2019
But after the abortion, Pearlstine said Charlene hemorrhaged and the osteopath would not return the couple’s calls.
Though a gynecologist performed a dilation and curettage procedure to stop the hemorrhaging, the botched abortion had damaged Charlene’s uterus and left her unable to conceive.
“The gynecologist performed the surgical procedure. I was so relieved to see her alive and out of pain that I barely recalled hearing the doctor tell us that the botched abortion had damaged her uterus, making it unlikely that she could have children. Although we subsequently married, she failed to conceive during the years we were together or later,” he wrote.
“Charlene and I had no regrets about her having the abortion, and she was openly and passionately pro-choice for the rest of her life,” Pearlstine continued.
The LA Times editor maintained that men must speak out in defense of abortion rights, adding that “should Roe vs. Wade be overturned, there will be a spike in illegal abortions resulting in increased injuries and death.”
“The ACOG estimates that before 1973 and the passage of Roe vs. Wade, ‘1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortions each year and that unsafe abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths,’” Pearlstine wrote. “I remain grateful Charlene wasn’t one of them.”
Pearlstine added that Charlene died of natural causes in 2018.
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