What did women do before Roe v. Wade?
I’ve never taken the road more traveled!
Pamela Blair is a practicing psychologist of more than three decades and an inveterate traveler with a love for exploring the lesser-visited places of the world. Her first novel, THE RELUCTANT WOMB, is a fictionalized account of the experiences of three friends when they attended the University of Michigan in the 1960s. All three confront the challenges of unwanted pregnancy and the options available to them prior to Roe v Wade.
The Reluctant Womb
THE RELUCTANT WOMB grew out of a discussion with several women at a weekly movie group. The movie we watched, Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always, was about a seventeen-year-old girl from Pennsylvania who travels to New York City to secure an abortion, because she can’t do it in Pennsylvania without her parents’ permission, and she can’t bring herself to tell them. It took place recently, when Roe v. Wade was still in effect.
“Meh,” one of the women in the group said. “I’ve heard similar stories and this one isn’t that unique.”
I thought she was being a little harsh, because I liked the film, which showed the difficulties the young girl had to go through to get an abortion, even a legal one.
Then I began telling the group the story of my two college friends, one who had an illegal abortion in 1963, and the other, who got pregnant at about the same time and decided to have her baby adopted. Other elements of the story (I won’t go into detail here) were dramatic enough for the complaining woman in my movie group to burst out, saying,
“Now that’s a movie I’d love to see!”
I didn’t know how to write a movie script, but she planted the idea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to write a fictional story based on what happened to my friends and me in those growing-up years of the early 1960s. I also wanted to fictionalize our mothers’ birth experiences in the early 1940s, to give even more instances of what women went through before Roe v. Wade. One of my college friends is no longer living, but I contacted the other, told her of my plan, and she said sure, go ahead. She even gave me some of the material I used to create the story.
That’s how THE RELUCTANT WOMB was conceived. My dream is that it will be born as a published book that women can read, to understand why Roe v. Wade was such a godsend when it became law on January 22, 1973, and why legal abortions are still needed today.
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Awards & Publications
2017: Honorable Mention, Travel Writers Conference, “Woman in Sudan.”
2020: Honorable Mention, Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, 2019: “An Ugly American Moment.”
Your Life Is A Trip, online travel magazine, three stories, 2017, 2017 and 2022.