I was saddened recently to learn of the death of actress-director Penny Marshall, who proved to be a trailblazer in both playing comedy and in directing heartwarming movies. She was perhaps best known for her portrayal of “Laverne” in the hit series “Laverne & Shirley.”
Curious about her life, I decided to read her memoir, which has the comedic title My Mother Was Nuts.
I learned about her childhood in New York–how her mother ran a dancing school because she loved to entertain. I learned about the interesting chain of events that led to her directing the box office hit Big. And I learned about some unexpected pregnancies in her life and their effect on her.
The first pregnancy occurred when she was young and unmarried. Before telling her mother or her boyfriend, she “wanted to think through my options, because maybe, just maybe, I might come up with a solution.”
She went on to write, “The most obvious option was to get an abortion in Juarez. I knew some girls who’d gone there. But I ruled it out immediately.”
She went on to have a baby girl, who grew up to have three children of her own.
But that is not where the story ended.
Later in life, she became pregnant again. She spoke with a variety of people, who offered a wide range of advice. She asked herself questions such as “Would I be able to live with myself if I didn’t have the baby?”
A man she knew offered to serve as a surrogate father. She declined. And she continued to struggle with what to do.
“I had never had an abortion, and I didn’t want to be that person who did,” she wrote.
In the end, she did have an abortion. She wrote, “I did it with a heavy heart.”
She went on to write, “It’s the one thing I’ve regretted most.”
Countless numbers of other women have faced the same life-long regret. I look forward to the day when abortion is unthinkable, and their tears will be no more.