Gloria Steinem’s newest book, My Life on the Road, hit stores on Oct. 27. In it, the 81-year-old feminist icon recalls the people she met and lessons she learned on her travels, and thanks one very important doctor: John Sharpe, who helped make it all possible. Sharpe, says Steinem, helped her obtain an illegal abortion when she was 22, while traveling through the UK to India. His only condition—other than anonymity—was that his young patient go on to achieve what she wanted in life.
Read the moving dedication in full:
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO:
Dr. John Sharpe of London, who in 1957, a decade before physicians in England could legally perform an abortion for any reason other than the health of the woman, took the considerable risk of referring for an abortion a twenty-two-year-old American on her way to India.
Knowing only that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, “You must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life.”
Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death:
I’ve done the best I could with my life.
This book is for you.