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For Dallas woman who lost sister, abortion debate bigger than headlines

'It's not headlines for me... it's for real,' Dallas woman shares abortion story
'It's not headlines for me... it's for real,' Dallas woman shares abortion story 02:19

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - America's contentious debate over abortion has entered a new phase. And while the procedure has always been controversial, for nearly 50 years it has been legal.  The headline grabbing question, now, is for how long. 

"You read about it," says Edna Pemberton of Dallas. "But it's not headlines for me... it's for real. It's the losing of a sister." 

Decades later, Pemberton is still touched by that loss, and the consequences. 

"She did it with a coat hanger.... that was in '69. And she didn't have to do that... but that's what she did." 

And although she hates the thought of terminating a pregnancy, Pemberton does not want to see those pre Roe days return:  a few years later a second do-it-yourself abortion would lead to her sister's death. 

"She left four boys and two girls," shares Pemberton. Six children that Pemberton and her late husband adopted, although they already had four of their own.  It was, she admits, a very difficult time. 

"We never thought about where they were going to sleep and what we were going to do when we got here," recalls Pemberton.  "I didn't have a choice. I was a foster kid. We had to make it work." 

Even now, at 78, "Mrs. P" as she is called in her Oak Cliff community is still working.  On this day, she's positioned in what's called 'the war room'-- surrounded by stacks of diapers, formula, clothes and backpacks, all part of her nonprofit's 'Operation Community Care'.  It's personal for her to help struggling families-- having seen firsthand the high cost of desperation. 

And to a woman tempted by desperation to risk something dangerous, she would share these words: 

"We love you- not the act, and before you decide to take this life, stop now and see what we can do, see how we can help you through this." 

Pemberton admits to both anger and hurt over her sister's actions-- but most of all she grieves for the children that were left behind. "I'm Aunt... but it sure would have been nice if I had been mother. Nothing like having a mother." 

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