Monday, January 31, 2011


The contentious maelstrom around abortions routinely neglects an important aspect, the well-being of those who are pregnant.

I was trained at Los Angeles County Hospital in the mid-1960s. In those days, if you decided to terminate your pregnancy and were well-off, your family flew you to Japan or Sweden. If you were poor, you sought  a local abortionist. 

Abortion being thoroughly illegal then, there were no professional standards. Abortionists didn't need a degree, experience, or, for that matter, scruples. They did their work with whatever came to hand--kitchen implements, harsh chemicals, even turkey quills. More often than not, their patients/victims developed bleeding, perforation, and infection. When I was on my Ob-Gyn rotation, we daily saw an average of eight to ten women with these complications. Many were as young as twelve, often hurriedly dropped off at the ER by frightened boyfriends or parties unknown. On the average, one died every day.

Imagine that: your daughter, who still keeps dolls in her bedroom, getting secretly pregnant, mutilated by a backstreet criminal, and shamefully dying alone. If abortion once again is declared illegal we'll return to those days. As always, the wealthy will find little difficulty terminating pregnancies and the less affluent will risk death while their impregnaters suffer no risk at all. 

To say to these young women, "You should have thought of that before…" strikes me not only as inhumanly callous, but actually supportive of the taking of a human life.

1 comment:

  1. Alas, to answer your earlier comment, the best we can do is what you already are--the consolation of "the talking cure" in your support group, and through your blogs.
    I love the idea of handing out certificates of mortality! Both my mother and myself have living wills with advanced directives because we fees so strongly that almost everything hospitals do to people are needlessly invasive, either at the end of life, or, god forbid--if I am shot in the skull like Gabby Giffords, I don't WANT to survive, even if it is technically possible!

    Yes- anger and horror and dread at even the possibility of abortion becoming illegal. You could not lay it out more dramatically or eloquently, that really, not providing safe abortions becomes an "anti-life" issue....but as Paul Krugman notes, the right wing has a "War on Logic" not just on this, but on economic issues too...
    My daughter cannot grow up in a world like this! I was watching the nail-biting historic vote on healthcare reform in the House on C-Span last March, but when Bart Stupak started putting in his amendments on abortion, and I saw they were going to pass, I immediately sent a huge donation into Planned Parenthood. It doesn't feel like enough.
    Alas, I am getting so irritated with the New York Times not accepting my comments that at last I have started my own blog!
    Called "Shelved in Cyberspace by _The New York Times_"