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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Abortion, pregnancy, and stigma

Turner explains her opposition to abortion. She dislikes it because of her religious beliefs and thinks women considering abortions should instead give their children up for adoption. Considering abortion inspires Turner to reflect on the changing social stigmas attached to pregnancy.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. Well, when you think back now, what do you think of as being the most significant things in your life so far?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, the day I rededicated myself to God. And I got so I could see the needs of the people, really see the needs. I've always tried to help people all my life. I had an incident that the Lord blessed. I helped bury a lady in '68. And I got a call last week: the lady had some money and I didn't even know it. And it happened I had started to throw the paper away… On her deathbed she had left everything she had to go to me. And so they found this bank account that the Lord blessed, and they sent me a check for it Saturday. So I mean, little things like this… Now I know that was manna from heaven, because I wasn't even looking for it. You see what I mean, things like that. I didn't know anything about that, because when I buried her in '68 she was poor, had no friends, nobody. So I took it on myself; I told them to take her. It wasn't no elaborate funeral, but he signed a note and I paid it off. So this came up; the clerk of court called, "Are you Josephine Turner?" "Yes." So little things like this. So I said, "Well, the Lord blessed it." Like aboration: sure, I don't believe in abortion. I said, "God hasn't made a mouth yet he won't feed. Give the baby a chance to come in. If you don't want it, give it away and let somebody else raise it, you know." And this is what I try to instill. I had a young girl come to me a couple of years ago. I said, "No, don't abort your baby. Come and live with me before you do that." Now she's got a little boy, and everybody wants him now. I said, "You tell them that's not their baby, that's my baby, 'cause they didn't want you to have it." I said, "That's my baby." He's just crazy about me; she is too, you know. And she thanked me for that. I say, "Because God ain't made a mouth yet he won't feed. He may not have what you want."
KAREN SINDELAR:
What do you think if the mother doesn't want the baby, who should take care of it?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, there's a lot of people that wants to adopt children. Go ahead and give it up for adoption if you don't want it. Don't kill it and all that. Somebody here will want it and will love it and raise it, you know. I just don't believe in it.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Well, after seeing your Mom do that too, since you saw your mother do that the whole time…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
And the girls turned out pretty well; all of them turned out pretty good, you know. Now one girl that my mother raised, her real mother died (the one that birthed her in the world). And I called her and told her to come. She said, "I'm not coming." I said, "Yes you do. She birthed you in the world." I said, "Whether or not she raised you, she birthed you. Come on to the funeral." She said, "I'm not." I said, "Yes, you do." So she came. I said, "Well, maybe it was circumstances beyond her control why she couldn't raise you. Have you ever thought about that? There's a lot of things, you know." I had a girlfriend to commit suicide. Back in our days if you got pregnant it was a disgrace. Now if you don't get pregnant it is a disgrace. And I had a friend of mine to commit suicide because of her family. You know, it was a disgrace in them days to get pregnant. So she just didn't know what else to do; she didn't have anybody to talk to. And this is the kind of thing I'd like to do: talk to the young people and tell them where it's at, and try to head them off before they get in trouble. Do you understand? There's so many things I want to do, as I said, but I just don't have the money. And being on the job I don't have the time as I desire. So that's why I wouldn't want to commit myself to anybody's one job. So the Lord has blessed me, and the bills is caught up one more time. And I think I can kind of handle it now.