Unplanned Choices - Chapter 1
Part 1 - Old Memories
November 7, 2012 (Binghamton, New York)
Getting drunk the night of Barack Obama’s reelection reminded Steve Lynch of the time his friend and college housemate, Ed Harding, got wasted when Ed’s girlfriend, Carol, died during an illegal abortion in 1966. Steve watched sipping scotch, as the announcer called the states on CNN. He kept the television on, alternately falling asleep and waking in his easy chair, when loud cheering blasted from the TV as a state changed to blue or red. He raised the glass each time the announcer proclaimed a Democratic state victory after eleven, knowing this postponed the specter of ending free choice for at least four years or longer, if Obama had the opportunity to appoint at least two liberal Supreme Court judges.
Steve was nervous two weeks before the election as Romney’s political organization claimed voters were surging to Romney, who if elected would implement the Republican platform criminalizing abortion, including vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s proposed legislation stating that life begins at conception, thus making abortion murder. Steve watched Romney’s speech conceding his loss, Obama’s acceptance speech delivered at two-thirty a.m., and the analysts’ commentary on the causes of Obama’s win and Romney’s loss.
He never forgot Carol’s death and feared her fate could be replicated hundreds of thousands of times if abortion became illegal or severely restricted in the United States.
Steve feared if Romney won the decline in the crime rate since 1990 would be reversed. The paper by Steven D. Levitt in Freakonomics, convinced Steve that the availability of legal abortions in the early 1970s, caused the reduction in crime, by decreasing the birth of unwanted and unloved males who reached their late teenage years in the 1990s.
He finished the bottle early in the morning darkness. He awoke the next day at nine a.m. with his first hangover since his wife’s funeral. Steve missed his wife, who died earlier that summer. He knew he would have celebrated in her arms, and not the bottle, had she been snuggled next to him watching the election returns.
November 16, 1966 (Baltimore, Maryland)
Carol lying in bed, suffering from pain in her uterus, as blood seeped from her, uttered, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been two months since my last confession. I was a virgin, but gave in to my boyfriend and had sex six times and became pregnant and had an abortion.” Father O’Farrell, a priest imported from Ireland, sat in a chair by her bedside and leaned over to hear her confession at Mercy Hospital.
Carol a freshman at Loyola College majored in elementary school education. Her life’s goal, never to be realized, was not a career but marriage to her lover, Ed Harding, after graduation.
Father O’Farrell tried to counsel her: “God has absolved you of all your sins. For your penance say two rosaries.” He neglected to lecture her with the Church’s normal admonishment of practicing abstinence as the only way to avoid a future pregnancy, since she was dying. He performed the Rites of Extreme Unction.
Ed shared Carol’s dream of marriage after graduation, but did not want to postpone physical intimacy. She never told him of the pregnancy, fearing she would lose him if she told him. She arranged for an illegal abortion in an old townhouse in Fells Point, Baltimore, and died three days later. She fell in love with him at age fourteen and before her unwanted pregnancy, dreamed of living a perfect life as his wife. Carol’s brother called Ed the next day and told him of her death.
Steve remembered Carol’s death changed Ed. He became quiet, not discussing his loss, and avoided relationships with women for over a year. When Ed resumed dating, he fanatically preached and practiced birth control.