WASHINGTON – It was Oct. 4,1976,and 16-year-old Georgette had a problem. She was the youngest of four children growing up in Detroit and was known among her family as “the good girl.” Unknown to her parents,Georgette was sexually active and pregnant,and on this day she was driving herself to a clinic to get an abortion.
Georgette left the hospital relieved,even though she barely understood what had just been done to her body.
Nineteen years and three months later,Georgette Forney said she was looking through her high school yearbook when she fully realized what had happened that day. Now married with one daughter,Forney came to terms with what happened and said she had been in denial about getting an abortion.
“I missed out on somebody who was going to make my life better,” she said. “I was relieved for 19 years. I was a happy consumer.”
Forney joined a “healing program,” discovered other women were in the same situation and in 2002 decided to help them talk about their abortions. Now a resident of Sewickley,Pa.,Forney co-founded Silent No More to serve as a “health resource” for women facing the same situation. The group held a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court last week to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,the court decision legalizing abortion.
Silent No More believes abortions are physically and mentally bad for women but does not support making abortions illegal,fearing the dangers facing women who would seek abortions anyway.
Jennifer O'Neill,a Cover Girl makeup model and actress for 30 years,is a celebrity spokeswoman for the group.
She married young and had one child when she was 19. After divorcing her first husband,she became engaged to a man 29 years her senior. Soon,she found herself pregnant again – but her fiancé didn't want any more children.
“I was coerced into having an abortion,” O'Neill said. “After several weeks passed,I hated myself profoundly.”
After her abortion and separation from her fiancé,O'Neill said she had nine miscarriages between the pregnancies of her two other children,which she said were the result of the procedure. O'Neill said she wished she had known what the procedure would do to her body. Now,along with Silent No More,O'Neill said she hopes to inform women about all aspects of abortion.
“We are working to get the truth out so abortion will be the unthinkable,” she said.
Dr. David Grimes,a obstetrician-gynecologist in Atlanta who is the former chief of the abortion surveillance branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,said O'Neill shouldn't connect her miscarriages with her abortion.
“Lots of women have miscarriages,and lots of women get abortions,” he said. “There is no evidence that abortion has an effect on future fertility.”
As to any emotional distress caused by an abortion,Grimes said many studies have proven women do better after abortions than after pregnancies.
“They have a profound sense of relief,” he said. “This has been intensely studied. We know more about the safety of abortion than any other operation that has ever been performed.”
Forney said many women who opt for an abortion know very little about the process,or what other options they have.
“I'm not going to be satisfied if a woman gets an illegal abortion,” she said. “Because I know how bad abortion is in the first place.”
According to a press release from the group,Silent No More seeks to educate the public about the possible physical and emotional side effects of abortion,help women cope with their abortions and invites others to join the campaign.
“We want to look at this from a woman's perspective,” Forney said. “How can we meet a woman's needs?”