The young woman sitting in the waiting room, who like others interviewed for this article did not want to be named in order to protect her privacy, said she could expect judgment and little help from her husband, now doing time for murder, and from most members of her family, if they found out she had aborted a pregnancy.
Most of those interviewed said that the culture in the Rio Grande Valley, predominantly Mexican American and heavily Catholic, forces women considering an abortion to do so alone and remain forever silent about it afterward.
“You know, in our culture, being Mexican, it is not really supported,” the woman said. “You feel like you can’t tell anyone.”
In the waiting room, where most of the women avoided looking at one another, she fretted. “What must they think of me?” she murmured. Then she let out a nervous giggle, remembering that they were probably all there for the same reason.
Her three children, ages 11, 9 and 7, are all in school now, but she is a year away from getting the degree in criminal justice she needs to get a job that pays better than her clerical work.
On the one hand, she said, “I just want to continue my career,” and on the other, “I need to take care of my babies, the ones I have now.”
Then she missed a period, despite using birth control, and a situation that she said previously seemed hard now felt impossible.