Harriett Hills Stinson, 85, a prominent member of the wealthy San Francisco family that founded Hills Bros. Coffee, says it took a push by GOP conservatives to cut funding for family planning and abortion services to move her to reveal a long-held personal secret: She once had an illegal abortion.
“I’ve never regretted it,” Stinson told The Chronicle this week. As a mother in her 20s with three young children, Stinson said, she came to the decision that “for the sake of my family, it was not right for me to have a fourth child.” Now, she said, “I’m hoping women who have had abortions will come forward.”
On Wednesday, Stinson was honored as national, state and Bay Area supporters of abortion and reproductive rights gathered on the Peninsula for their annual Power of Choice lunch sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation’s largest abortion and reproductive rights advocacy group.
My aunt told me this story about thirty years ago:
My uncle was home on leave from the Marines during WWII and one Sunday afternoon the two of them got married without telling anyone first. When they got home and announced the news my grandmother wasn’t happy and pulled her new daughter-in-law aside.
“Did you have to get married?” she asked (meaning “Are you pregnant?”)
“Of course we did” my aunt told her. “We love each other.”
I was laughing at the story when my aunt dropped a bombshell. “You do know your grandmother had to get married when she was seventeen because she was pregnant, don’t you?”
Needless to say that was news to me. Both my aunt and my grandma passed away years ago. But stories like those are what turned them in my mind from “grown-ups” to real people.