The blog that will Become a Book
Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles
Week of May 1, 2017
It started as an idea for a blog. With the upheaval in women’s reproductive rights and more and more legislation limiting those rights, I wanted to do a blog on the Clergy Council, a group of ministers and rabbis who arranged for women to have safe abortions before Roe v. Wade became the law in 1973.
I remember the Clergy Council because they helped a friend get an abortion in the early 70s in Massachusetts. I thought they were limited to Massachusetts.
I use Yandex usually as my search engine. It is Russian-based, so I’m sure my innocent searches are not boring the NSA when they sweep up my searches with millions of other people.
Nothing came up. Even with various words.
I went to Duckduckgo.com, a Swiss site that does not report to the NSA. Voilà.
I discovered the Clergy Council was national, not just in Massachusetts. The correct name was Clergy Consultation Service (CCS). An article gave me the name of Reverend Charles Landreth who on, June 6, 1971 from the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, FL launched a campaign to help women find safe abrtions. I could find nothing on the web about him except for that one article. One of his compatriots, Leo Sandon, may be a former professor at Florida University.
It was at this point, the idea of writing a book became a full-fledged reality.
I didn't want it to be academic
Having taken a workshop years before with Leo Gutkind, the Father of Creative Non Fiction, I decided to use that format.
Creative non-fiction uses the tools of fiction such as dialogue, scenes, description about a subject that must be the truth. The writer can inject him or herself into the story.
I have a goal for the book.
I know that no matter what legislation is passed, women will continue to get abortions. I wanted to prove that point, self-publish the book and send it to every legislator who is trying to limit women's reproductive rights.
Because we were talking about 1970 I doubted that most of the people I might want to talk to are still alive.
I remembered Bill Baird, the pioneer in fighting so unmarried women could get birth control. He was often jailed for handing out birth control information. In Eisenstadt v. Baird, the law limiting this information was ruled unconstitutional and doctors were free to help women control pregnancies.
Wikipedia told me he was 84 and still alive with a website.
I e-mailed him not expecting much, but the next day there was reply. He has failing eye sight, he said but welcomed a phone call.
I am at my daughter’s outside of Boston. The only reason I am in the States, was that I testified before congress about FATCA, a banking law targeting American expats. My original plan was to fly in, testify and fly out.
My husband came with me for support. The following week he was running a helicopter conference in Florida. One set of international airline tickets are costly enough, making two trips within a week made no sense. “Stay, come with me,” he said.
I looked at him. “I don’t do Florida. The only good thing about my parents’ death after they retired to Florida, was I would never have to go there again. I hate heat, humidity, palmetto bugs, shopping centers although the Early Bird Specials served at most restaurants are nice.
“Go to Boston. Spend time with your kid,” he said.
Thus, I am here in Boston reveling in her company, enjoying hearing my accent where Rs meld into Hs, and seeing places where I've lived and loved.
However, I don’t have access to a telephone. She doesn’t have a landline, my mobile doesn’t work in the US and the computer phone calls are unclear.
I wrote Baird saying I’d call him the following week when I returned to France. He graciously said email him the questions he would get someone to help him enter the answers. I did. The next day I had his answers.
I remembered a Tim Sebastian BBC interview with Norma McCorvey, the Roe of Roe v. Wade. Sebastian, a former host of the in-depth interview program Hardtalk, in most of his interviews went for the jugular. McCorvey appeared damaged and not able to defend herself. Sebastian was gentle with her while still conducting an in-depth interview, I wondered if BBC would have a transcript. Before writing I checked youtube.
I found it, listened and took notes.
Wikipedia did not have the names of the lawyers who represented her, misrepresented her, she said. I was able to trace them down. Sarah Weddington is on twitter and I tweeted her asking for an interview. Although she hasn’t responded I’ve found more information on the internet. I will continue to pursue.
I found methods on the internet of herbal self-induction of abortion.
I watched Motherless, a documentary of children my age of older who lost their mothers to botched abortions. I need to do this several more times for sources.
The introductory chapter poured out of me. I have my title Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles based on a comment by my oh-so Victorian grandmother a lifetime ago.
It is hard to sleep as I think of new areas to work on.
To do list:
· First Presbyterian church current minister and photo
· Leo Sandon U. Of FL
· Sarah Weddington lawyer interview copy articles from internet
· Motherless notes and talk to producers, doctor, get stats from it
· Set up bibliography
· Contact Planned Parenthood
· Find list of famous women who signed they had abortions
· Get a list of graduates of my high school to find women willing to talk about why they had illegal abortions. Hope some dealt with the Clergy Counsel (CCS).
· Write friends from the era to see if they can lead me to women willing to talk about why they had illegal abortions. Hope some dealt with CCS
· Use Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook to find women willing to talk about why they had illegal abortions. Hope some dealt with the CCS
· Order books on history of abortion, etc.
· The writing of
· Abortion thru history
· Mores before Roe v. Wade
· Clergy Council more than one?
· Case studies
· Bill Baird
Started to find possible case histories via twitter, linked in. Asked two classmates for an email list of people who graduated .
Ordered books for delivery to a friend. Between travel and the French postal service, which sometimes considers addresses a suggestion, she is more apt to be home to receive packages. I ordered others for my Kindle.
I wake up in the middle of the night almost every night with new ideas.
Over the next few days, I will post what progress I made up until I catch up to my current activities and then will post weekly. In a way, it is a manual in writing a work of creative non-fiction on an important topic.