My mother's name was Gertrude Rahn.
She died when I was just 9 years old. For many years I was told that she died from kidney failure at the young age of 29. In 2021, through a dear friend of my mother's, a 55 year old family secret was revealed and I learned that the story was much more complicated.
My mother met my father in high school and they were married right after they graduated. By the age of 20 my mother was the mother of two. When she found out she was pregnant with a third child she sought out alternatives to bringing yet another life into the world due to the economic burden it would put on the family. Abortions in the 1960s were illegal in New Jersey. Leaving the options for safe abortion care unavailable to my mother.
My mother decided that taking the risk of having an unauthorized abortion was better than bringing another child into a marriage that was already financially and emotionally strained. Shortly after my mother had the procedure, her organs stopped working and she died.
My mother's story was lost for decades perhaps because the way she died was a source of pain and shame. I only recently discovered the truth about how my mother died after speaking with one of her childhood friends who shared her recollection of the incident through tears as she reminisced about learning the news about “Gertie’s” death.
On May 2, 2022 a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court's intention to vote to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and severely restrict access to safe abortion care, a right our constitution has protected for nearly 50 years.
Most women who are seeking out abortions today are like my mother, Gertrude.
According to the New York Times, 6 out of 10 women who seek out abortion are already mothers of two, 57% are in their 20s, 49% are low income and 58% are having their first abortion.
We started the G.L.E.W. Foundation in 2020 to support black mothers on their path to realizing their full potential. In honor of my mother Gertrude, The G.L.E.W. Foundation makes an annual gift to support organizations that ensure access to safe abortion care to black women.
The "G" in the G.L.E.W. Foundation stands for Gertrude aka Gertie.
Read the letter below by Gertrude's daughter, Yael, our Foundation's co-Founder, to learn more about WHY we are making an annual gift to support access to safe abortion care for Black women.