Chicago Tribune

My illegal abortion: One woman recounts ending her pregnancy pre-Roe v. Wade as more states pass near-bans on the procedure

CHICAGO - Shortly after nightfall, the 17-year-old girl joined her mother in the back seat of an unfamiliar car driven by a stranger to an undisclosed location on the South Side of Chicago.

It was a summer weekend in 1966. The recent high school graduate, by then more than eight weeks pregnant, had made her choice. But it required much stealth and secrecy at the time.

"My gut said this is my only option to not ruin my own life," recalled Leta Dally, now 70, of the city's Far North Side. "My life would have been over."

The car parked at a designated spot. On foot, the male driver escorted the mom and daughter through an alleyway to the back door of a nondescript building. Dally never knew the name of the doctor who terminated her pregnancy that night or the address of the site, an underground abortion clinic operating in the years before the procedure was permitted by law.

Over the next five decades, she rarely spoke of her illegal abortion. Yet Dally said she has been recounting that

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