Courageous Woman: My Choice for Life
I can't help but wonder about all the young girls dropped off at abortion clinics nationwide by boyfriends who leave them to live with the consequences the rest of their lives.
After Roe vs. Wade abortions were legal and easy to get. Planned Parenthood clinics were abundant and easily accessible. Abortion had become the instant quick fix nationwide. I was impressionable, lacking in hard-core common sense and ignorant when it came to the knowledge and insight that comes with age. Had I been then, the person I am now, I would have told Terry to get lost. Instead, heartbroken and crushed, I unwittingly let him drive me to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Houston.
Lisa Matl with husband Peter and their 7 beautiful children
A little baby, a human being, was at stake here.
My family and I, and the baby's father, Chuck, and his family had some serious decisions to make, but abortion was not one of them. For one thing, abortion was illegal in 1970, and for most people, immoral as well.
My mother, I think in sheer desperation, did quietly mention abortion to me as I lay in my bed one evening. Sitting next to me on the edge of the bed, she posed it as a question, but then quickly shook her head and dismissed the subject saying abortion was not possible.
She never mentioned it again.
Had abortion been legal and convenient then as it is now, my parents may very well have considered it as the easy way out.
My baby deserved life and a future just as much as anyone, and ending its life, thankfully, was not an option.
We lived in the small town of Alice, Texas and in 1970 teenage pregnancy was not as commonplace as it is today.
For several days, both families grappled with the news, pondering what course of action should be taken. In the meantime, I began pre-natal care with a local obstetrician. I experienced my first gynecological exams and suffered embarrassment and humiliation at my predicament as I continued my sophomore year of high school.
Being faithful and devout Catholics, Chuck's parents were understandably fearful of uniting us in a church marriage. They knew that statistically, our marriage would ultimately fail. They suggested rather strongly that we put the baby up for adoption. My parents however, adamantly refused. They could not fathom giving away their own flesh and blood. Still a child myself, I had no particular convictions either way and followed my parents' wishes, deciding against adoption.
Negotiations and discussions continued between our families. Finally, my parents drove over to his parents' home with the proverbial "shotgun" and threatened to charge Chuck with statutory rape (he was eighteen) if they would not agree to a lawful marriage between the two of us which would, of course, commit him to financial support of the child. A church wedding was out of the question, but both families agreed to a civil ceremony.
Chuck, his parents, my parents, and I did the deed one cold afternoon in late January. Following the somber ceremony, we all went out for lunch at Ship Ahoy Seafood Restaurant, and afterward I went home with my parents and Chuck went home with his.
My parents were somewhat appeased - they got a legal union between us, but his parents were still reluctant to have us "act out" or consummate the marriage by living together. As Catholics, this would have been sinful since we had not married in the Church. It was hard for both sets of parents, I know, because we were so very young, still children ourselves.
Chuck and I continued to attend high school. I hid my growing belly under large, loose dresses and blouses, missed early classes because of morning sickness, and desperately fought against dizziness and nausea during the long, hot afternoons. We had no air conditioning in the schools back then. This arrangement continued until my parents stepped up once again and insisted that we live together as man and wife. So, I turned sixteen in February and moved in with his family until I finished tenth grade and Chuck graduated from high school.
That summer Chuck and I moved to Kingsville, about thirty miles from Alice. Chuck began college at Texas A&I. Our daughter, Lisa, was born in September and I became an official high school dropout and teenage mother.
I missed out on the traditional high school parties and dances, football games and pep rallies. I never attended a prom. Instead, I cooked cleaned, shopped and changed diapers. I had to learn about babies, diapers, loose stools, cracked and bleeding nipples, staying up all night, hospitals, croup and croup tents, vaporizers, diaper rash, etc.
Chuck and I stayed married about two years. Not surprisingly, we divorced and I moved back home with my parents. I enjoyed taking some college classes, but living at home was not fun and I became restless and lonely. I longed to go out and date again, so when a friend set me up on a blind date, I couldn't wait! Maybe I was craving love and attention, maybe I was just eager to get out of my parents' house, or maybe I was simply a victim of the times, but I fell in love immediately.
It was the seventies and the sexual revolution that began in the ...
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