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Leslie Graves

My name is Leslie Graves and I’m from Wisconsin.  I’m glad you’re all here.  From a very early age I wasn’t just pro-choice, but I also thought that abortion was a reasonable, and probably the right thing for a woman to do who wanted to achieve a quality, have a career, and take advantage of her education.  So, before I was ever in an unexpected pregnancy, I would’ve known that I would have chosen an abortion. 

As soon as I got pregnant when I was 20, I was in graduate school in philosophy.  I immediately scheduled an abortion.  It was a very physically safe abortion, it was a very kind, caring staff, a clean, nice clinic.  So it was certainly quite inexplicable to me why two months later I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because I was so depressed.  I didn’t understand why I ended up dropping out of graduate school later that semester.  And I certainly didn’t understand why, a few months later, I turned to my boyfriend with whom I had had the abortion and said, you know, “Let’s get married.”  And I chose as our wedding date the weekend that our child would’ve been due, because that was the only way that this still, small voice inside me that affirms life knew how to acknowledge and memorialize my child at that time. 

So as life went on I was still very pro-choice.  I didn’t know why I was starting to hate myself.  I didn’t know why whenever I was pregnant again, and I would be two and three months pregnant, I would wake up every morning and think that I probably should kill myself.  So I would feel suicidal throughout my pregnancies.  And when my babies were born, as much as I adored and loved them, I would wonder why I felt as if there was an invisible wall between us. 

So, my experience is that that still, small voice we are all born with, that knows that life is sacred, in spite of whatever ideologies we may embrace when we are young and foolish, is still there and speaks through us.  And I’m sorry that Georgette started crying because now, I might.  The only thing – it’s been a wonderful day – but the only thing I wanted to say is that there’s, as Helen Keller says, there’s a great deal of suffering in this world, but there’s also a great deal of overcoming.  But when I saw that sign that said that every child is wanted, what I wanted to say about that is that we all still want our children, but they are gone forever…

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