WHEN SHE WAS 20 YEARS OLD, Renee Chelian began every Friday with a predawn drive to an airplane hangar outside Detroit. There she met an abortion doctor, and a pilot who flew them to Buffalo, New York.
This was 1971. Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion, was still a year and a half away, and New York was one of the few places in the country where abortion was legal. Chelian was the doctor's assistant. She cleaned instruments and made appointments for women who hitchhiked or drove from all over the Midwest and New England to reach the clinic.