Women die from abortion

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To the Editor:
In the noise of the Roe v. Wade debate, it is fitting to remember the women who died from illegal abortions before the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal across the United States.
Growing up in a Catholic home, I was told that my maternal grandmother died at 29 from TB, leaving behind three daughters, 4, 6 and 9, but no husband.
In 1965, my Aunt Irene told me that at age 9 she had discovered her mother dead, the result of a self-inflicted abortion. Shame prevented the family from sharing the truth all those years and no one ever visited her grave.
I found my grandmother’s grave in a municipal cemetery in Tampa, Florida, long closed, filled with cypress trees and Spanish moss. One part of the cemetery was a dirt area, about 10 feet square, where paupers were buried. My grandmother’s grave is there.
Before Roe v. Wade, untold numbers of women died from illegal abortions. My grandmother, Stella, was one of them.
Clara Oleson
West Branch


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