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What We Left Behind: Girdles, Silence and Illegal Abortion

20 January 2012 3,869 views No Comment Tags: , , , ,

By Suzanne Braun Levine,

When I went to work at Ms. in 1972, I wore a matching pink skirt and blouse — and a girdle. I had just gotten married and was, therefore, not able to get a bank loan without my husband’s approval. I had given up playing basketball (half-court for girls) in college because no coach or court could be found. And I had had an illegal abortion.

Actually it was having had that abortion that was my first tie to Ms. and the women’s movement. The Preview Issue of the magazine, which was excerpted in New York magazine, included among such classics as “Click! The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” by Jane O’Reilly and “I Want a Wife” by Judy Syfers, a list of celebrity names under the headline “We Have Had Abortions.” It took a lot of courage back then to admit to what was a crime. In the corner was a coupon which readers could fill out to add their name to the list. I filled it out with pride and relief (I hadn’t admitted to my crime before), and by the time those coupons were being counted and processed several months later, I was managing editor of Ms.

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