Abortion and the Story of Becky Bell


I was replying to a comment from one of my wonderful readers today, and it made me think of a show I watched on TV many years ago in the 1990s. The series was called HBO Lifestories: Families in Crisis. These shows dealt with pressing issues in society involving kids, families, and communities. They were all based on true stories, with the real people involved interviewed at the end. I’m pretty sure I saw them all, but the one that hit me the hardest and I never forgot was “Public Law 106: The Becky Bell Story.”

Becky Bell was a senior in high school. She and her boyfriend, also a senior, were both good kids and both had earned scholarships to college. They came from good families, volunteered in their community, loved their parents, and loved each other. Naturally, as human beings do, they expressed their love for each other in many ways, including having sex.

Becky finds herself pregnant, though they had taken precautions. She and her boyfriend (I’m sorry, but I do not remember his name, but not because I did not find him important in the story) discuss what in the world they should do. Becky was close to turning 18, in just a matter of weeks, if I recall. Her boyfriend was already 18.

They loved each other and were planning on getting married, but they knew not only would this unplanned pregnancy possibly derail their college plans, but worse, what were their parents going to think. They discuss how disappointed their parents would be with their decision not to wait to have sex, as well as the fact that now a pregnancy has resulted and all their future dreams for their children changed. They decide, though they love each other, they cannot destroy their parents with this news – they cannot risk their parents’ disappointment, and loss of trust, respect, and love.

They decide a secret abortion is the way they must handle this. Though they are adults in some respects, they are also still just kids, trying to find their way, lacking experience and the skills to understand the consequences of their actions. Because Becky is not yet 18, and due to Indiana’s Public Law 106, she must either have her parent’s consent or get a judge’s permission. Again, telling her parents, in her mind, would be so devastating that she had to figure out how to do this without them knowing. The judge would not grant her permission, insisting Becky speak with her parents. Becky & her boyfriend decide there is no way on earth they can tell their parents.

Becky can ask to see another judge, but since time is of the essence, it would take too long to get on another docket. She heard about a place that did them illegally, across the state line if I recall. Regardless, she takes a bus several hours away to have the procedure, and then takes the bus back to where she parked her car. Once she returns home, she is obviously not well, running a fever.

The next day, she is still quite ill, yet tells her mother there is no need to go to the doctor, she just has the flu or something. At one point she gets up to go the bathroom, and there is blood all over her bed. Not knowing any better, she thinks she is having her period, so a doctor would not know she had been pregnant.

As she gets out of bed, and staggers to the bathroom door, she shouts, “Ok, mom, I’ll go to the doctor, if you want.” Then she collapses on the floor. Her parents find her, she is rushed to the hospital, where she subsequently DIES. A beautiful, smart, caring, loving young woman with great promise loses her life. This family loses their daughter, and I am sure felt full of blame, as well as the young man who was in love with her.

As I am watching this, my four-year-old daughter is playing within eyeshot. As I look at her, I think – This could’ve been me. This could’ve been any of my friends. This could be my daughter someday. On that thought, I cried as if I knew Becky Bell personally. I’m sorry, but to me it was personal. The thought of anyone losing their daughter this way was soul-wrenchingly horrifying to me.

Should Becky have talked to her parents – yes certainly she should have. BUT she didn’t. Should she have been having sex as a teenager in high school – probably not, but do you actually remember what it was like to be a teenager? Right wrong good bad – they do it – it’s human nature.  Should she have died for these mistakes, poor decisions, and short-comings? Absolutely not!!

I am not trying to change your mind about your beliefs, just hoping you realize women who find themselves in positions where they feel this is the only choice they can make at the time for whatever reason – these women are not murderers, nor are they happy or thrilled, or remotely proud or comfortable with their decisions. They do, however, feel that they are backed into a corner with no other solution – desperate. EVEN if there was a better solution, they didn’t see it at the time! Have we not all been short-sighted at some point in time?

Do I agree with them – maybe not. But I will not call them sinners.

I am not perfect, and I can be on occasion judgmental – but I am not God and it is not my job to approve of or forgive these women for what many call a sin. This is why I am pro-choice. This is why I do not think middle-aged men in suits should make healthcare and life-changing decisions for women, particularly women they do not know.

Walk a mile in their shoes first – and let thee who has not sinned cast that first stone.

They are all somebody’s daughters.

I don’t know – just something I was thinking about . . .

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14 thoughts on “Abortion and the Story of Becky Bell

    1. Hi Paul! Thanks for reading & commenting! It is a very sad story, one that didn’t have to happen, one I will never forget! Maybe why I felt so compelled to share it . . .

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  1. This is, indeed, a sad story and I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion. I find it so hypocritical how conservatives and Republicans want the government to stay out of their lives, but are fine with inserting the government into the healthcare and personal, private rights of women. Do you know if that law is still in effect today? I looked it up on Google, but couldn’t find a definitive response.

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    1. Thanks for the follow & reading & commenting Doobster! I looked it up & according to the Guttmacher Institute, not sure if Public Law 106 is still in effect as named, but minors do require parental consent. As a mother, I have to be honest, I would want to know if my underage daughter was having a medical procedure. Having said that, if it came down to me knowing & giving consent or my daughter dying – I’ll take me not knowing any day!

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      1. It is truly a shame that the girl wasn’t comfortable enough with her mother to have been able to confide in her. It’s too much for a fragile teenager to have to deal with on her own.

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  2. When I was 18 my best friend had an abortion. She loved her boyfriend but her parents were a well known prominent family and he was not. They were headed off to college as well. She was old enough to have an abortion but I dare say she would have found a way against it if she’d had too.
    I took her to have it done and there were protesters and Bible thumpers with picket signs.
    It was a very difficult thing for her to do without the drama.
    I would be upset if my child had something like that done and I not know about it. But I am with you, I’d rather her be alive.
    We can provide contraception for children but not abortion?
    On the other hand a physician cannot care for anyone under the age of 18 without the consent of a parent unless they are emancipated.
    It is quite a catch 22

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  3. It is a sad story and the choices the young woman made should not have resulted in her death.

    While I believe that it’s not the state’s role to determine what a woman can or cannot do, I believe life begins at conception. They seem to be two mutually exclusive positions It’s an issue I’ve been wrestling with for decades and still don’t seem to be any where near a satisfactory resolution.

    I understand that a woman may feel the best option is an abortion, and I certainly don’t have the right to judge her. But I hope that society evolves so that in the future, many of the pressures that cause a woman to choose an abortion today will no longer exist.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Barry! I agree with you – “I hope that society evolves so that in the future, many of the pressures that cause a woman to choose an abortion today will no longer exist.”

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  4. You did think right,it is a tragedy, plus in that culture where woman are basically almost slaves, those old traditions certainly don´t help in this situation. It´s tough decision, I still can´t see a picture of a dead aborted kid and say how well the girl has done it, at the same time there are situations like this that is just a tragedy for everyone involved. Life is choices, we all make bad choice(I probably do it more than most) so can´t say in this case you could blame this poor kid for her choice at that age. Can´t argue on this one, it´s just a tragedy.

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