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Florida woman recalls illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade

'I've been fighting this a long time,' Janis Gibson says of 1970 abortion
Janis Gibson, says she had illegal abortion in 1970
Posted at 5:56 AM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 05:58:28-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As Americans try to understand what may happen if Roe v. Wade is reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, there are some who remember what it was like.

"I'm 70 years old. I've been fighting this a long time. I had an illegal abortion," Janis Gibson, of Port St. Lucie, told WPTV on Wednesday.

Gibson recalls it was 1970 as an 18-year-old from Michigan traveling to Chicago for an arranged, illegal abortion costing $600.

"You walk in the door and they take your money in a hotel room and there's four other people there," Gibson said. "They've got my money. The room could be raided. I could be out the money and still pregnant."

Luckily for her, Gibson said, there were no complications. But it is a fear many doctors now have if states move to ban abortion.

Dr. Rebeca Martinez is an OB/GYN and assistant professor at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County.

"It can increase damage mentally and physically," Martinez said. "Physically, we've known that unsafe abortions prior to Roe v. Wade, which increase infections, death and sterility from inappropriate damage, which we do not want to return to."

Martinez worries for women without the means to travel to states that may still legalize abortions if Roe is reversed.

For women like Gibson, who later had a legal abortion and then a daughter later in life, she feels abortions will still occur no matter what happens, something she realized from her father.

"My father told me before he died, and I don't know why he felt compelled to tell me, my mother had undergone an illegal abortion in the late '50s," Gibson said.