GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Friday marks one week since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which established the right to an abortion. During that time, protests erupted coast to coast and now a local woman is weighing in with her story wanting to provide the context she said has been lacking from the conversation.
In 1969, Arlene Yeung was pregnant at 21 years old. With an unsupportive partner and a whole life ahead of her, she had to make a decision. A decision that was made harder at a time when Roe V. Wade hadn’t existed yet.
“I was filled with fear and dread and panic,” Yeung said.
Ultimately, Yeung decided to have an abortion. However, without the option to have a safe abortion at home, Yeung traveled outside U.S. borders to Puerto Rico. She says the procedure and the experience scarred her for the rest of her life.
“I flew back the following night, and within 12 hours of being at home, I ended up in the emergency room with what they classified as a septic abortion, which was a really severe infection,” Yeung explained.
Yeung spent a week in the hospital with around-the-clock care, being pumped full of antibiotics.
“I went home and I healed physically, but emotionally, it took me many years,” Yeung said.
Yeung believes if she had been able to have the procedure done in her hometown, the residual pain she feels today wouldn’t be such a burden.
“If it had been legal when I was pregnant then it would have been a lot easier. It would have been a lot safer,” she said.
Four years after Yeung’s procedure, abortions became legal in the United States. She said Roe v. Wade being passed gave her peace of mind. However, with the supreme court overturning the nearly 50-year-old landmark decision last week, Yeung is reminded of all she went through.
“It brings it all back like it was yesterday,” she said. “When it’s illegal, people will get on a plane, bus, or train to get that abortion. And the ones that can’t, they’re going to be forced to have a baby that they don’t want.”
Yeung says overturning Roe v. Wade will not prevent abortions from happening, it will just prevent safe abortions from happening, leading people to take drastic actions as she did over 50 years ago.
“They’re going to find a way whether it’s legal or not. They will find a way if they don’t want that baby. And that’s unsafe,” Yeung said, “It’s still a woman’s choice. It’s still a woman’s choice.”
After having her abortion, Yeung thought she would never be able to have kids. She said she was blessed with three children years after and later became a birth coach to be the support she never had.
Yeung’s message remains clear: “It’s a gray area, but it’s still a woman’s choice.”