Elsa

Elsa was convicted in Sweden in 1943 for having helped women with illegal abortions. She was then 44 years old.

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    OTALT/Helene Karlsson

Elsa's story is written and dramatised by Sara Falkstad/OTALT. It is based on a true story.

All of us were devastated when we heard that a girl we had helped ended up in the hospital and nearly died.

Ester was the one with the rubber catheter and a speculum. It started with her and Asta helping Asta’s sister. Asta had been to a lecture by Elise Ottesen-Jensen where she learned some new information, and Ester in her turn had gotten some tips from a work colleague many years ago. After that, it must have gotten out that Ester had the catheter. A few times somebody we didn’t know would come up to one of us and ask for help, at the café or when we were out dancing. They must have gotten our names from a friend.

I know what it’s like when it’s not a good time for a baby.

Elsa

Sometimes I let the women stay at mine for a couple of days. They don’t always want to tell their husbands. There are already five of us in one room and a kitchen, but it’s alright for a night or two. My husband never asks any questions. I know what it’s like when it’s not a good time for a baby. We have been through rough times too, when my husband lost his job at the piano factory. I have tried to support us the best I can.
 
At first it seemed like it had worked out fine this time as well. When we were done, the girl got up and served us all coffee.

I came back to pick up the catheter the next day. The girl told me that she had started bleeding the night before, and that something had come out. I could tell she was tired but she said she was feeling fine. She asked me if I wanted any payment, but I didn’t.

But what makes me angry is that everything would have been easier, had we not been forced to do this in secret.

Elsa

Later I heard that she had gotten a high fever and ended up in the hospital. We were sad and shocked, all of us. Luckily, the girl made a full recovery. But what makes me angry is that everything would have been easier, had we not been forced to do this in secret. And the girl’s situation would have been even worse, had she been forced to have the child.

Today I learned that Constable Jacobsson knocked on Asta’s door. He asked her husband questions. He asked him whether Asta was out and about a lot. Then he came in to inspect the home. Asta always keeps a neat and clean house, and her children do well in school.
 
Chills go down my spine when I think about the catheter, hidden under Asta’s pillow. I truly hope the police won’t find it, if they come back.
 
I hope Asta didn’t tell them too much, or mentioned any names.

I’ve told my eldest son where I have put some money away, in case something were to happen to me. And today I cleaned my house more carefully than usual. But most of all, I hope no one will knock on my door.