February 1, 2011

It was revolutionary

Read more OBOS stories, and submit your own! Learn more about OBOS’s 40th anniversary.

Submitted by: Joan Bragar

Forty years ago, when I was 16 years old, I had one of the first legal abortions in New York City.

New York legalized abortion one year before Roe V Wade in 1972.  This experience was very difficult. There were no “clinics” and I had to be put under general anesthesia in a hospital by an ob/gyn who made disparaging remarks to me and made me wait in a room filled with expectant mothers.

I was very upset, and when I saw a notice for a “women’s health conference” at a school, I attended and spoke about my experience. Amelie Rothchild heard me and and asked me too speak in the movie, It Happens To Us, about women and abortion.

I am the teenager in the movie.

After that I became interested in the women’s health movement and remember attending sessions on Our Bodies Our Selves in mid-town Manhattan. The book was in newsprint then (I still have that now-historic copy), and it was revolutionary for women to be learning what was in the gynecological textbooks and “translating” it into lay language that we could understand and use.

Years later I, of course, gave the book to my teenage children.

I now work supporting family planning, reproductive and maternal health health projects in Egypt and Africa.

Thank you Judy and the entire original OBOS collective for being there at the originating point of the women’s health movement.

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