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Sherry Chessen's abortion in 1962 and Rho's fate

Sherri Chessen, Abortion in 1962, End of Roe

In 1962, Sherri Chessen was the star of Phoenix's children's television show "Romper Room," known as Miss Shelley when she became pregnant, a married mother of four. To treat her morning sickness, she took her husband Bob Finkbean's sedative, which she brought back from the UK.

The drug she later discovered contained thalidomide, a chemical associated with severe birth defects. "What I did was poison myself with a drug I didn't even know the name of," she said in a 1998 interview.

Sherry and Bob chose abortion because they didn't want to take a child with a birth defect to their family. It was only available in rare cases at the time.

Chessen told the 1962 interviewer, "In every soul quest I have done, I will not give life to anything. I feel it from the bottom of my heart. I feel it. It will give some kind of life and death. "

But first, promising her anonymity, Chessen called on a local newspaper to warn the community about thalidomide. The story rocked the phoenix. The hospital canceled her abortion after Chessen's name was leaked and a local prosecutor threatened to take legal action. 

Shortly after, Chessen's painful story appeared on the Life Magazine page, and the country began to think about the deeper complexity of abortion and women's choices. In the end, the Swedish hospital promised to provide an abortion. So the couple flew to Stockholm, all their moves covered by aggressive press. 

Life Magazine

When she returns Chessen asked, "Now that's all, do you still think you've done the right thing?"

"More than ever," she replied. "I don't know if it was a woman's intuition or if the god in me said,'Don't give birth to this baby.' And I didn't. And now I have it. I know it was the right decision. "

There are piles of threatening letters. The FBI provided security to her family, and the Vatican accused Chessen of calling her procedural murder.

Her reaction: "It was good, it was honest, it was to do any mother to save her child from suffering."

She "I remember waking up after surgery and telling a Swedish doctor,'The baby was a boy or a girl,'" he said in 1998, "it wasn't a baby. It's never normal." It was an extraordinary growth that was not a child of. "

That August, the same month of her pregnancy, President Kennedy praised the best Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Frances Kelsey, an administrator who kept thalidomide away from the United States. "Recent events in this country and abroad regarding the effects of a new sedative called thalidomide reiterate the urgency of providing additional protection to American consumers from harmful or worthless medicines." Said Kennedy.

Abortion was legalized in some states years after the 1962 incident in Chessen. When the Supreme Court defined abortion as a constitutional right in 1973, 13 states had already approved the procedure.

Chessen knew of Rho's constitutionally unprotected world. Now she is cast back to a world without them, like any other American60 years later, 90 years shy for 3 weeks, Sherry Chessen A little fragile, she told CBS News Major Garrett, "You can't go back to willow sticks, knitting needles, and everything a woman has pierced her womb." "The Supreme Court may be surprised to find that there is light in what they have done. They have empowered women everywhere. I feel it. My granddaughter has it. In addition to that, we are very angry as women. I say many times, I win. "

Chessen's idea of ​​abortion seems to be the problem itself. In addition, it is hierarchical and complicated. She considers herself an anti-abortion ofandin favor of abortion.

"Some people think that's the case,'Oh, that's a form of contraception. If I go out and get pregnant, I can have an abortion." No, it's not the reality of abortion, "she said. "Abortion has a wonderful, ugly premortal life, if you think. Can I do it? I should. There are a lot of tears for many people. And the aftermath is horrifying."

Sixty years ago, Sherry Chessen, then the mother of four in Arizona, gave birth to a child with a birth defect after taking thalidomide. Faced with giving birth. With no abortion available, she traveled to Sweden for surgery. Today, she says, the end of Roe is awakening "massive anger" among women.CBS News
{143 Chessen said she never started to become an abortion rights activist. "I didn't know anything about abortion. My abortion was the most hateful and most affectionate thing I've ever had, but I didn't know anything about it.

Garrett said, "What you wanted to do was warn people about thalidomide."

"That's right."

"That's it." It must have been a terrifying time. "

" It was very scary, "Chessen said. Of their doctor's office. I know how it feels, because you know what. 60 years ago, it will be 60 years – don't do math – in August I was thrown out of my doctor's office, from the city, and from the state.

After her abortion, the television station fired Chessen and told her she was no longer suitable to be around her children. They gave her another less noticeable show. But when she became pregnant again, she was also fired for that. Major: I lost my beautiful and wonderful "Romper Room" job because I didn't have a baby. And I gave birth to a baby, and I lost my beautiful and wonderful job. Please make a decision.

Chessen's daughter, Terry Finkbean Arnold, was seven years old in 1962. "I remember my parents sitting me down. They didn't use the word abortion. They said Mom had a bad seed in her and the doctor was going to take it out.

"All the press were there and they had all these cameras with old-fashioned flash valves that generated pop and hiss noise. I'm afraid. "

After the abortion, Chessen had two more children. Her youngest child, Christine Atwell Ford, still lives in the Phoenix area. "She paid a lot for standing up for herself and her family," Ford said. "But if she weren't there, I wouldn't be here."

Chessen said, "No, she's not here, because I have to carry my baby in the basket. If not, it wouldn't have been possible. I never did. I had another child. "

Ford said," My mother confronted the United States, Arizona. Thank you for finding a way to determine what's best for her and her family. She's my hero. "

Christine Atwellford and her mother, Sherry Chessen.CBS News

A story created by Ardenfarri. Editor: Joseph Flandino. 

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  • Five things you should know that the Supreme Court has overturned the Roe v. Wade case
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  • Forefront of the battle for abortion ("Sunday morning")

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