Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): Briefly tell me a little bit about yourself; age, interests, upbringing, family structure, etc.
Delores Norman (DN): Hello, my name is Delores Norman. I am 42years old Black American women born in Brooklyn raised in foster care in Upstate NY. I am the fourth of five girls and I had my first son at age 18. I own a non-profit organization called The Hard Luck Club Foundation located in Charlotte, North Carolina; my organization caters to recovering addicts. I have two sons, 24years and 19years, and two stepdaughters, three grandchildren (2 girls and 1 boy). I am a recovering addict and have been clean for 22years.
EM: How old were you at the time you received news you were pregnant and what were the circumstances?
DN: I was 15years old and was pregnant by my foster father, whom I was molested by since the age 12. I found out I was pregnant, and I began having sex with a boy who liked me so I could blame the pregnancy on him. I knew I couldn’t claim the pregnancy immediately, so I waited until we had sex a few times before announcing I was pregnant. However, by the time I went to have the abortion I was already 5months pregnant. It was too late to have a normal first trimester procedure so I was forced to have a still birth procedure.
EM: What was your response to the pregnancy and what was your foster father’s response?
DN: I was scared especially under the circumstances. I was afraid of everyone finding out about my foster father and me. My boyfriend was scared as well, because he was five years older than I was and was afraid of being arrested for statutory rape. He was forced to enlist in the military to assure my parents that he would not mess with me again until I was of age. I felt horrible, because I knew he was not the father and knew he did not want to go to the Army, but he had no choice…. or go to jail.
EM: Due to the circumstances what was it like making the decision to abort the baby? What were you experiencing; feeling and thoughts?
DN: The deciding factor for me was the fact that I couldn’t face anyone if they found out whose baby it was. I was feeling like a murderer and that I was going to hell for killing my baby. I felt like I would be punished and that I was a horrible person. However, I felt like I had no choice and my decision was the lesser of two evils.
EM: What was your visit to the clinic like?
DN: I went to Brooklyn’s Jewish Hospital and the nurses were cold and careless. They made me feel like I should have known better. I wanted so badly to tell them that I didn’t have a choice. I wanted them to know that everyone is not the same and every case is not routine. Sometimes things happen beyond your control.
EM: Was your foster father with you during the procedure?
DN: Yes, my foster father was there but he could not comfort me, because my foster mother was there as well. She was upset and disappointed, and he had to comfort her and go along with her badgering me about being fast and easy. The ride home was probably just as bad as the procedure itself, I just felt like I wanted to die.
EM: Did you inform your foster parents right away of your pregnancy?
DN: I hid the pregnancy for five months before telling my foster mother. My foster father knew sooner but I kept denying it until I could figure out what to do. Once my mother knew she began to treat me coldly like I was contaminated or something, I wasn’t her innocent little girl anymore.
EM: What was the abortion procedure like, and what were you experiencing emotionally throughout the entire process?
DN: I was given a needle in my stomach with a saline solution, and I was told that it would induce my labor and I would experience some labor pains. They brought in a commode and told me when my water broke to sit on the commode and push as hard as I could. Then I was told that once the baby came out it would be born dead and that I should not look at it or it could cause me to have night mares. Unfortunately, I looked anyway and they were right. It was a boy lying in a pool of blood in what looked like a toilet; it was the most horrible experience of my life and haunts me to this day. Although I make peace with myself for what I did, I will never forget it. I decided to tie my tubes at the age of 22years old largely because I never wanted to have another abortion again.
EM: Did you have a support system in place at all?
DN: No support system at all. I was left to deal with the pain and remorse on my own at 15.
EM: A few girlfriends of mine who had abortions experienced a heavy sense of regret. Was this the case for you? What lesson or positive arose from your experience?
DN: Yes. I have two sons; however, I told them about my experience and told them that they had an older brother who is with God now. I explained the importance of taking responsibility for your actions. I wanted them to know what a mistake I made and how they need to protect themselves if they don’t want kids. Yet, if they don’t they shouldn’t encourage their girlfriends to have abortions. Although I would say I was pro-choice, I personally would never have another one.
EM: What would you like to clear up for the public as it relates to women who get abortions? What would you like to share with the women who are at the crossroads of making that decision as well as for those who have already gone through the procedure and are grieving?
DN: The only thing I would like to clear up for the public is that everyone’s circumstances are different. Don’t clump everyone together. There is so much date rape, molestation and incest in families today it is impossible to determine which one of those young ladies in that clinic is carrying a baby they are ashamed of and don’t know how to deal with the situation. Also to the women who are grieving, allow yourself to grieve and acknowledge your child and your mistake and allow the pain to die a natural death.
EM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DN: I am a molestation survivor not a victim. I went back to therapy and put the pieces back together in my shattered life. My hope is that if I can do it then you can too. I learned to forgive myself and move on. I would suggest they do the same.
EM: Thank you very much for sharing your story.