To better understand why this town allowed Henrie to perform these abortions, and why they too were as discrete in protecting the identity of the women from their community who went to see him, you have to look at this from the standpoint of Old Grove in the 1950s. The women who showed up in his clinic were daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, friends, and lovers. These women belonged to Grove and Grove took care of them. This simply was not an abstract question in any case. You weren't allowed to judge these women with scorn because they were, after all, people you loved and knew. The kind of absolute and unforgiving judgments and condemnation of women who seek abortions is an anathema to a tight knit community, where everyone knows everyone, where peoples' struggles are not isolated or ignored, and where children are under the guidance and care of all.
Only now, where we lived dispersed among each other, isolated, disconnected and thereby more capable of construing "others" or"those people," do we witness a swell of pro-life rhetoric, condemning all who seek abortions as "murderers," as "immoral," and as "sinners." We actually are far enough removed from the details of others lives that we feel entitled to judge them. "These young people today have no morals." "If people are starving now, it's their own fault." The erosion of community opens up the possibility of total, absolute and irreconciliable black and white moral positions.
What bothers me the most, as I try to witness this story not from my 2006 perch, is how much more tolerant, pliable and open these people were in the 50s. They had to be. They literally depended on each other to survive. Sure, you don't like what some of them think, what some of them do, but you can't afford to wholly discount them. You cannot walk by and ignore them. You know that "there before the Grace of God go I." And here we are now, in 2006, in a sea of anonymity. Helen said: "I don't even know any of my neighbors anymore. Grove is not the same place."
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."