by Michelle Duff
Nov 8 2016, Broadly
Once, a load of wet cement was dumped on her driveway. It did not dissuade her.
Dame Margaret Sparrow was 21 when she carried out her DIY abortion. The year was 1956; if you didn't want a baby, there were few ways out. She sent away for an inky-black elixir from a chemist rumoured to know about such things, and it arrived in the post in a brown paper bag.
"I have no idea what the mixture contained, whether it was a health risk or what the margin of safety was," Margaret writes in her book Abortion: Then & Now.
She was desperate. It worked. She had the equivalent of a heavy period, which came earlier than usual. "It happened when I was at work and was not in the least traumatic," she recalls. "Anticlimactic, really."
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