Monday, October 22, 2012


I wrote an article for Sisyphus magazine ( in 2011 which described an oft-neglected issue involving certain pregnant women. I’m republishing it here since it’s a high-profile issue in our upcoming election.

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 tongs, 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 impregnators 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. In my opinion, this is the number one reason to make medical abortions available! Abortions are going to happen, and as health care providers we are obligated to provide this service in a safe environment to women in need.