GIVEN THIS WEEK’S EVENTS, I AM REPRISING A PIECE I WROTE SEVERAL YEARS AGO.
Before Roe v. Wade, untold numbers of America women died from illegal abortions. One of them was May Burns of Middleboro, Massachusetts, shown here in her only surviving photograph.
She was my great grandmother.
May, an Irish immigrant, was married to William H. Archibald, the son of a Scotsman who crossed the Atlantic to Nova Scotia before taking his family south to find work in Massachusetts in the late 1800s.
When William grew to manhood, he got a job as a steam shovel operator on road projects. He and May had four children together. John, the oldest, was my maternal grandfather.
After May’s youngest, Anna, was born, she didn’t want more children. Raising four in Middleboro, MA, was difficult enough on her husband’s meager pay. Unable to find anyone to help her, she performed an abortion on herself. John was seven years old when she died in the last…
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