Letters: Listeners Discuss Abortion, Snow Days

On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, listeners weigh in on personal stories of abortion. Also, listeners share their own snow-day superstitions.

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NEIL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails and blog comments. Our show on abortion received an especially emotional response. We asked our listeners to talk about their own abortions, an often taboo, and sometimes painful subject.

Sarah(ph) wrote:

(Reading) I had an abortion when I was 17. It was the wrong time in my life to have a child. My parents were not able to emotionally support any other decision. My mother paid for half, my boyfriend the other half. It was not a hard decision considering the situation, but our relationship was never the same. Just last week, I told my 19-year-old daughter. She was shocked to find that her mom is not the picture-perfect mom that she had in her mind. But it was simply a part of my life, and the honest truth.

Sue(ph), in Portland, had mixed feelings about her experience.

(Reading) The last time I tried to talk about my abortion to someone, I told them that I grieved for my child. The person I confided in became very, very angry and said to me that I had no right to grieve since I was the one who had made the decision. They felt I did not deserve to have any feelings about this issue. It's been 15 years since then, and I have not really tried to discuss this since. I know I made the best decision for what was happening in my life at that time. Still, I grieve for what might have been had the situation been different. I wonder what the child would have been like, would it have been a girl or a boy, smart, or pretty, handsome, or funny. I made a choice; still, I wonder.

Karen(ph), in Providence, had an abortion four years ago and is working through her guilt. At the time, she writes, I was in a committed relationship and certainly mature enough to handle raising a child, but it didn't fit into my lifestyle. The bottom line for me is I ended a life rather than bringing life into the world. I can't imagine anything anyone could say to make me feel better about my decision. The guilt I still experience at the age of 29 is knowing how much different and, perhaps, more fulfilling my life is without having had to raise a child over the last four years, and from knowing that I will, in all likelihood, be better able to raise a child in the coming years than I would have four years ago.

We also heard stories from men in our audience, including Steve(ph) in Denver.

(Reading) My girlfriend, now wife, of 20-plus years had an abortion when we were both in high school. It was a decision that haunted us for years. Once married, we had great difficulty having children when we wanted to start a family. We always blamed ourselves and thought we were being punished somehow having the abortion. It took many years and in vitro technology for us to have children. We're now in our early 40s with young children. We know we could have a child that would be in their mid-20s now. We don't talk about it other than to say that we could be grandparents by now, but instead, we have young children ourselves. It's a decision that stays with you for life. We always wonder what might have been.

Thank you for all your open responses on such a private topic. The conversation continues on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

And we also got a lot of response after our segment on the superstition that pajamas inside out and a spoon under the pillow can bring on a snow day.

Dominic(ph) wrote:

(Reading) Back in the mid- to late '90s at Lakeridge High School near Portland, Oregon, we would throw pennies at the sky in an attempt to bribe the snow gods. We also burned torn-up pieces of old tests or papers, with bonus points for things on blue paper - blue being the color of ice. I don't think anybody really believed that this would bring snow, but it sure was fun.

Tom(ph) had a warning for those in snowy areas.

(Reading) Here in the Rochester, New York area, my teacher friends tell me that the ritual is to wear pajamas inside out and backwards. There is no mention of spoons under the pillow, maybe that's because our average annual snowfall exceeds 100 inches so that putting a spoon under the pillow would simply be engaging in overkill.

And last but not least, we received one e-mail from a listener whose snow-day ritual involves an awful lot of exercise.

(Reading) My classroom snow-day ritual is, the night before, wear your PJs inside out, run up and down the stairs three times and flush the toilet at 8 p.m.

That's from Adrian(ph), age 11, in Cincinnati.

And, as always, if you have comments, questions, corrections or snow-day rituals for us, they're tough to come by in the news business. The best way to reach us is by e-mail. Our address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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