At the end of 1971 the draft had ended and my school no longer had any ethical reason to keep me and I flunked out. At the beginning of 1972 I obtained employment as a medical records clerk at University of Chicago Hospitals. The mother of a girlfriend quit her job as an admitting clerk in the hospital and recommended me as a replacement. So part way through 1972 I became the night admitting clerk working from midnight to 8 in the morning at Chicago Lying In, the obstetrics and gynecology hospital at University of Chicago Hospitals.
Termination of pregnancy was illegal and every few weeks I would admit from one to three emergency patients for botched abortions. I suppose the illegal operation would do all its patients on those particular evenings. After a few months it dawned on me that those I admitted were the ones who had made it to the emergency room and if there were these many botched procedures there must be others who had not made it to the emergency room.
At that point I prayed. I’ve prayed twice in my life and the second time was selfish and stupid. But the first time I prayed for abortion to be legal. My argument was that it is better to lose one than two.
There was a miracle and abortion became legal.
Chicago Lying In had five floors. The top floor was surgery, labor and delivery. The fourth floor was unscheduled admissions, 14 beds. The third floor was 33 beds of moms. The second floor was 22 beds of scheduled admissions. The first floor was administration and clinics. We operated pretty much at capacity and there were nights when we refused emergency admissions because we didn’t have a bed.
When abortion became legal the second floor was empty for a month. Then we used it for second trimester terminations.