Risa Nye: A Safe and Supportive Abortion

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Risa Nye hopes that all women will have the support and freedom of choice she had many years ago when she was young and pregnant.

I was 19, working in San Francisco and going to school at UC Berkeley, when I got pregnant. A birth control failure forced me to consider a derailed future, an outcome I didn’t want or plan for, and disastrous consequences for me and my boyfriend.

My abortion didn’t take place in a seedy back alley—far from it. As a student and an employee of a large company with health benefits, I had access to counseling and the care I needed. I never doubted that I would get the necessary help: living in California, prior to 1973, there wasn’t even a question that I would be denied the kind of reproductive health care that millions of women will not be able to receive now that the Supreme did what we feared it would do.

Fifty years later memories of that time are still very clear. The people who helped me were kind and considerate. My boyfriend was alarmed and nervous, but also supportive and helpful. The flood of emotions during the time between my positive pregnancy test and my post-procedure recovery ranged from a secret satisfaction that I could, actually, become pregnant and the absolute terror of having my as yet defined future life path determined by a faulty piece of plastic.

I remember the color scheme at the clinic where I had my abortion. The nurses wore orange or yellow scrubs. One of them held my hand as I drifted off into an anesthetic reverie, feeling more relieved and peaceful than I had since I found out I was pregnant.


Years later, when I suddenly wanted to be pregnant, I approached the idea of becoming a parent with trepidation, sure, but also with confidence and the support of my husband and family. I grieve for the women and girls who will suffer in the post-Roe world we live in now. I fervently wish that all of them could, instead, choose their futures—with or without children—as I was able to do.

With a Perspective, I’m Risa Nye

Risa Nye is a writer living in Oakland.