Norman Pearlstine, LA Times executive editor, says he helped his college girlfriend get an illegal abortion

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The veteran journalist said he and his girlfriend, whom he identifies as Charlene, were 19 years old when they sought out the procedure in the 1960s, believing they were “too immature” to be parents.

After the abortion, Pearlstine said Charlene began hemorrhaging. She underwent surgery that damaged her uterus, and she never conceived, Pearlstine said.

They did not regret their decision and Charlene remained “passionately pro-choice” for the rest of her life, he said. The two married and later divorced and Charlene died of natural causes in 2018, he said.

Pearlstine said he kept the story to himself, at times asserting “an editor’s need to make ‘fairness’ a priority when rationalizing my silence.”

The recent spate of legislation restricting abortion access throughout the country “resuscitated long-dormant and traumatic memories,” prompting him to speak up and encourage other men to do the same, he said.

“I believe many men, under similar circumstances, have shared my preference for silence while encouraging women to assert their reproductive rights,” he said.

“While eschewing opinion, I believe burying the facts is neither moral nor noble in the face of heated emotions and recent efforts to make abortion again illegal. I think it important to remind myself and to tell others what life was like before Roe vs. Wade.”

Should Roe vs. Wade be overturned, he cautioned that there will be “a spike in illegal abortions resulting in increased injuries and death.”

He cites estimates from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology indicating that before the passage of Roe vs. Wade, “1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortions each year and that unsafe abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths.”

“I remain grateful Charlene wasn’t one of them.”

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