Saturday, July 30, 2005

On this day in history

On July 30 in 1987, then-President Ronald Reagan directed his Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, to prepare a report on the effects of abortion on women. Prolife and prochoice groups disagree about what the results of that request were. Prolife activists say that Koop never wrote a report, but instead sent a letter to Reagan saying that there were no "unassailable" studies. Prochoice activists say that there was a Koop report that said abortion is perfectly safe. Which side is telling the truth? Both are -- if you know the inside story. Read about it here.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Another safe-n-legal anniversary

Twenty-six-year-old Yvette Poteat had an abortion performed by Dr. Marion D. Dorn Jr. at The Ladies Clinic in Charleston, South Carolina on July 16, 1985.

A lawsuit filed by her survivors says that Dorn did not examine the tissue he removed from Yvette's uterus, and did not notify Yvette that the lab report showed no fetal or placental tissue in the specimen. On July 27, Yvette experienced "sudden, sharp, constant lower abdominal pains," and was taken to a hospital by her fiancee. Yvette was admitted to the emergency room, where she informed the doctors about the abortion. She was mistakenly diagnosed as having Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, was given medication, and was discharged after several hours with instructions to seek follow-up care in two days.

Throughout July 28, Yvette experienced continued pain. She called the hospital but "was instructed not to return but to give the medication a chance to work."

Early in the morning of July 29, Yvette collapsed at home. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She went into cardiac arrest due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that both Dorn and the hospital staff had failed to diagnose, and was pronounced dead 6:15 a.m.

The suit against Dorn, the clinic, the hospital and hospital doctors won a small $23,000 plaintiff verdict in 1987.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Abortion drug causes fatal infection

Life News reports on an article to be published in next month's Annals of Pharmacotherapy.
Professor Ralph P. Miech, MD, Ph.D. writes that the antiprogesterone effects of mifepristone also cause changes in the cervix that allow C. sordellii, a common vaginal bacteria, to enter the cervical canal.

The C. sordelli bacteria is particularly dangerous because the woman can have a life-threatening infection without the fever that usually accompanies infection.

The Life News article did not indicate if the vaginal use of the drug increases the effects and makes infection more likely.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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The five-minute abortion

Back in 1991 I wrote in depth about the five-minute abortions at the Inglewood abortion facility in California. Read it. It's important to understand exactly what it means when a facility is doing a five-minute abortion.

Lest you think that Inglewood was just a freaky exception to the rule, check out these other examples of how facilities rush women through:

The New York medical board found that Dr. Thomas Grubbs has performed the fatal abortion on Christine Mora in only three minutes.

I reported on a 2001 article in the New York Times that found that in order to cut costs, clinics were streamlining their procedures so that the doctor would only spend two to three minutes with each patient.

The Dadeland abortion mill in Miami would rush a single doctor through sixty abortions a day.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Maybe they're just wising up

Glamour magazine laments the declining support for abortion among young women.

Glamour postulates on the reasons young women are becoming less enthusiastic about abortion: they've seen ultrasounds, they figure that with contraception readily available there's no excuse for being sloppy about it, they have a positive image of motherhood, they've been disgusted by the publicity surrounding Partial Birth Abortion. But mostly, Glamour muses, they've just not experienced the "bad old days."

Well, Glamour, maybe they've learned from the generation before them that abortion really sucks.

(HT: Jill Stanek and

The real need for reproductive health care

Roughly 4,000 poor and minority women die needlessly from cervical cancer every year, according to this article on Fox News. The CDC is pushing new efforts to reach these women and get them the screening and treatment they need.

Now, here's something that everybody can get behind, prolife and prochoice alike.

Two more non-dead non-women

This date, July 27, is the sad anniversary of the day two non-women didn't-die from safe-n-legal abortion.

I tried to write up these women's stories from the perspective of those who hold that only illegal abortions kill women, but it just doesn't work. These were real, living, breathing women and their families loved them. They had friends, hopes, dreams, and all of that was taken away from them. Those of you who refuse to let that fact enter your minds can go back to chanting "Safe-n-legal safe-n-legal safe-n-legal..." Those of you who can grasp reality can read on.

Eighteen-year-old Yvonne Corrie Mesteth was in the second trimester of pregnancy when she went to Dr. Benjamin Munson's office in Rapid City, South Dakota. Munson performed the abortion and sent Yvonne home. She developed infection, kidney failure, and respiratory distress syndrome. She died July 27, 1985. Yvonne was the second of two patients to die of infection after abortions by Munson. (The other was Linda Padfield, who died just short of five months after Roe vs. Wade magically made all abortion perfectly safe.) By the way, despite having done such a botch job on Linda's abortion that he was prosecuted for murder, Munson was welcomed into the National Abortion Federation. Isn't it great to know that prochoice groups like that are watching out for women?

The other death anniversary the abortion lobby wants to sweep under the rug is that of thirty-two-year-old Mary Ann Dancy. This mother of five went to Fleming Center in North Carolina for an abortion in 1990. The abortion was performed by Clarence J. Washington. After Mary Ann went home, she bled and was taken to Halifax Memorial Hospital. She died that night during emergency surgery from hemorrage due to a lacerated cervix.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sufficient Scruples

Kevin at Sufficient Scruples can't quite understand that being female doesn't equal any kind of enthusiasm for abortion. In particular, he sneers at Feminists for Life.

He also can't seem to get that it's not just about ending the pregnancy. Were that the case, NOW wouldn't be siding with men who want to flush frozen embryos that the women want to rescue, and there'd be no such thing as post-viability abortions.

He also blows off the RU-486 deaths. By his logic, we should disband the FAA and just let airline passengers take their chances, since air travel is so safe.

Although we both think "House" is pretty lame. Also, though Kevin doesn't mention it, what's with gimpy characters lately? CSI has the ME with a cane, ER has the doctor with a cane, and House has his cane. I mean, kudos for not having everybody spry and exquisitely fit, but maybe they could find an actor who just happens to have some sort of disability and let that play out as it may.

Monday, July 25, 2005


This is four nights in a row I'm having trouble sleeping. My blog isn't usually personal, but right now this is all very, very personal.

Two folks at work (I work in an afterschool English academy in Korea) started commiserating about how totally tragic it would be if Roe was overturned. And I was just sick to death of oblivions who are so concerned about the preferences of hypothetical women that they're blind to the cost of abortion for women who are dying for real. And I just lay into them about Marla Cardamone.

Marla was 18 years old when a social worker browbeat her into an unwanted abortion that took her life. Marla's mother, Debbie, describes walking into the room where her daughter lay, the same daughter she'd left healthy and vibrant just the night before:
There was my beautiful daughter so horribly disfigured that she was almost unrecognizable. A tube was still protruding from her mouth and I could see that her teeth and gums were covered with blood. Her eyes were half opened and the whites of her eyes were a dark yellow. Her face was swollen and discolored a deep purple. The left side of her face looked like she had suffered a stroke.

I can not grasp the double standard -- how it is that to people like those two co-workers, the death of Rosie Jiminez was an unacceptable, unspeakable, intolerable tragedy, but the deaths of women like Marla are brushed off as inconsequential.

Oh, abortion must be legal -- otherwise women will die! But what was Marla? A hamster? A space alien? A figment of her mother's fevered imagination? She was real enough for Magee Women's Hospital to admit her, inject her, and then leave her to die. She was real enough for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner to do an autopsy on her. She was real enough to get a birth certificate and a death certificate. But not real enough to matter to the self-proclaimed defenders of women's lives.

I can understand that prochoice activists dehumanize the fetus. That's a given. But when they dehumanize the woman, render her invisible and unreal just because her death doesn't fit their paradigm, that's just more than I can sit and listen to.

Four sleepless nights now in this latest bewildering, frustrating encounter with oblivion. It's worse for Marla's mother, I know. About the only thing that makes it any easier for her is to know that somebody else still cares. But outside Marla's family, it seems that I'm the only one. And that's a lonely and sad place to be.

What's so puzzling about the RU-486 deaths?

The headline: Officials Puzzle Over Abortion Pill Deaths

Let's see: a bunch of quacks with a proven track record of taking lethal shortcuts are given dangerous drugs and told it's okay to dispense them. The quacks are sloppy. Women die. And then officials are surprised.

I'm sorry, but this is like showing up at a frat house during pledge week and being puzzled over the presence of so many passed-out drunks.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ain't I a Woman?

We've all heard the mantra: "Abortion must be legal or women will die." It's presented as an either/or proposition. If abortion is illegal, women will die. If abortion is legal, women won't die. Well then, what were Leigh Ann Alford, L'Echelle Head, Diana Lopez, Kimberly Neil, Holly Patterson, "Myra" Roe, Tamia Russell, Brenda Vise, Nicey Washington, and the other entities that went into American abortion clinics and are moldering in their graves now as a result?

These entities had all the appearance of women. Their families and friends apparently opperated under the assumption that they were women. Even the abortion facilities treated them as if they were women -- or at least as if they were primates with female reproductive organs, which is probably the most you can expect from an abortion clinic anyway. But, the prochoice assure us, legal abortion is safe. It is criminal abortions that kill women. So we're left looking at what appear to be dead women, but we're not supposed to actually see women.

When abortion enthusiasts were pushing for legalization, they tended to trot out individual sad cases of abortion deaths. Strangely enough, the cases they chose to display were not typical. Roughly 90% of pre-legalization abortions were performed by doctors. About 80% of the rest were performed by nurses or other professionals, usually with training, equipment, and emergency support provided by a physician. The 2% of abortions performed by people with no formal medical training included abortions performed by the Jane syndicate in Chicago, a cadre of female laymen trained and supported by doctors.

Only a tiny, tiny fraction -- fewer than 2% -- of pre-legalization abortions were the grueseome Lysol or coat-hanger abortions we're told were typical. And -- this is even more important -- the gruesome self-induced abortions were most often seen in women with severe mental illness, women with a history of other self-mutilating and/or self-destructive behavior. What it boils down to is that abortion enthusiasts took the rare and abberant behavior of women who were desperately in need of psychiatric care, and pretended that this was the common behavior of women who simply needed to have their pregnancies ended.

The other disengenuous claim was the numbers. Abortion enthusiasts told the American people that 5,000 to 10,000 women were dying every year from criminal abortions. The numbers were patently absurd, and their origin was recently traced to a flawed piece of guesswork published in 1936.

The truth of the matter is that all the efforts of public health officials to detect and prosecute abortionists led them to discover most abortion deaths, and one has to go back to the pre-penecillin era to find more than 1,000 women dying of all abortions -- legal, illegal, and spontaneous (miscarriages). Given that before WWII country doctors routinely performed all manner of surgery -- tonsilectomies, removing an appendex -- in the patient's home, stories of kitchen-table abortions in the 1920's and 1930's need to be placed in context. After the advent of antibiotics and blood transfusions, abortion deaths began to plummet, falling to fewer than 50 per year in the late 1960's. Widespread availablity of contraceptives made avoiding pregnancy much easier, advances in medical technology made abortion injuries easier to treat, and psychiatric treatment of women with certain mental disorders was the primary thrust in eliminating dangerous "coat-hanger" abortions. The problem was being contained rapidly. Then came legalization.

The criminal abortionist lived a precarious life. If he botched the job, he could lose his license or even go to jail. Natural consequences tended to weed out the quacks or at least impose some discipline on them. Jesse Ketchum, for example, wasn't a very good doctor (judging from the lawsuits against him), but he managed not to kill any of his illegal abortion patients. But when New York rolled out the red carpet to abortionists in 1970, Ketchum was in Buffalo the day the new law went into effect, doing abortions out of a hotel suite. As more and more abortionists sent patients home to die, without suffering consequences beyond a scolding by the public health officials, Ketchum grew bold. He began doing hysterotomy abortions in his office and managed to kill two legal abortion patients in a six month period. Milan Vuitch, likewise, had a clean record as a criminal abortionist but went on to kill two patients after legalization. Ketchum and Vuitch exemplify the impact of legalization: it made abortionists cocky. But again, we see dishonesty among the prochoice in presenting the results of legalization.

The favorite study is the California study that found that hospital admissions for abortion complications fell dramatically after legalization. What the study authors failed to mention is that in California, virtually all legal abortions before Roe were done in hospitals. A woman who suffered complications was already an inpaitent, and therefore would not be counted as a new admission. Compare the California study with the mess health officials encountered in New York, where abortionists were given carte-blanc to practice as they pleased. Abortions were done in freestanding clinics and doctors' offices, often with no emergency backup. Extremely dangerous procedures such as saline instillation and hysterotomy abortions were done on an outpatient basis. Family doctors all over the country were suddenly swamped with an influx of abortion-injured women -- many of them moribund -- who had been sent home with no provision for follow-up. It was, in short, a disaster, and should have served as a warning. Instead, abortion enthusiasts focused on the California study and ignored the chaos in New York.

When Roe was handed down, abortionists no longer had to carpetbag -- they could set up New York style freestanding facilities anywhere in the country and thumb their noses at health officials. The consequences were dire. The number of reported abortion deaths began to climb. Something had to be done. Rather than attack the problem of actual abortion mortality, the Abortion Surveillance Branch of the Centers for Disease Control chose to attack the problem of bad publicity. In the years before and immediately after Roe, CDC officials would send out a letter every year to every Ob/Gyn and emergency physician in the country, asking for information on abortion deaths. If a doctor failed to respond to the letter, he was sent a second letter. In this way, abortion deaths that would otherwise have gone unnoted were detected and counted by federal public health officials.

But in 1976 the CDC disbanded the active surveillance and started counting only those abortion deaths voluntarily reported to them through the National Center for Health Statistics or through other public health officials. It is no great surprise, then, that the number of abortion deaths counted by the CDC fell sharply. Not to mention the fact that abortion mortality had already been falling for the previous seventy years. It's a bit unclear how legalization managed to accomplish that.

"Myra" Roe and the others like her are dismissed as abberations, as simply the consequences of all surgery having some risks. But when the cases are looked at closely, clearly they are not cases of unavoidable risk. The bulk of these women were given substandard care, plain and simple. Sadly, they are typical of post-legalization abortion deaths. But abortion enthusiasts choose to ignore these women and others like them, instead continuing to chant their mantra of safe-n-legal. "Abortion must be legal," we are told again, "or women will die."

Myra might well quote Sojourner Truth and ask, "Ain't I a woman?"

Are abortions used as birth control?

With roughly 1.3 million abortions a year in the United States, many people wonder: Are women just using abortion as a method of birth control?

There are different school of thought on this question. Some prolife hardliners hold that unless the pregnancy is the result of non-consensual sex, or some health problem in mother or fetus is discovered during pregnancy, it's "abortion for birth control."

According to a study published in Family Planning Perspectives: 3% of women abort because of concerns that there is something wrong with the fetus; 3% of women abort because of concerns for their own health, and 1% abort because they are pregnant through rape or incest. That totals 7%, leaving 93% of abortions being done for birth control, by this rather loose concept.

Let's look at the rate of repeat abortions. Since Roe v. Wade, the percent of abortions done on women who have already had at least one abortion has climbed steadily. This chart was compiled from data in CDC Abortion Surviellance Summaries:

Year Previous Abortions Total Repeats
0 1 2 3+
1974 75.2% 9.8% 1.3% 0.4% 11.5%
1976 70.9% 14.8% 2.4% 0.8% 18.0%
1978 66.9% 20.9% 5.0% 1.7% 27.6%
1980 64.4% 22.4% 6.3% 2.2% 30.9%
1982 56.2% 19.7% 13.5% 5.0% 38.2%
1984 57.8% 24.5% 9.0% 4.1% 37.6%
1986 55.4% 24.7% 8.9% 4.8% 38.4%
1988 56.4% 26.2% 10.2% 4.8% 41.2%
1990 56.2% 26.4% 10.0% 5.8% 42.2%
1992 54.2% 26.9% 10.8% 6.4% 44.1%
1994 53.7% 26.6% 10.9% 6.8% 44.3%
1996 53.2% 26.4% 11.0% 7.1% 44.5%
1998 52.6% 26.4% 11.2% 7.6% 45.2%
2000 53.2% 25.7% 10.9% 7.4% 44.0%

The repeat abortion rate has recently leveled off at roughly 45% -- meaning that nearly half of women undergoing abortions have had at least one prior abortion. And there are roughly as many women having 4th, 5th, 6th and subsequent abortions as are having abortions for rape, incest, fetal indications, and maternal health combined.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who believe that you can only count a woman using abortion as birth control if she was not using birth control when she concieved, and she had no intention of becoming pregnant.

The former Pro-Choice Guide wrote that 42% of abortions are obtained by women who were not using contraception.

The hard-liners, defining "abortion as birth control" as any abortion chosen because the woman doesn't want to have the baby, put the "abortions as birth control" rate at 95%. The middle ground, judging by repeat abortions, puts "abortions as birth control" at 45%. And the most conservative count, just counting abortions on women who weren't using contraception, put "abortions as birth control" at 42%. Even the low end, the conservative estimate of 42%, is still, by anybody's reckoning, a lot of abortions.

So are abortions being used as birth control? It seems that the answer is yes. But this is a simplistic way of looking at the issue. Here are some resources that provide further food for thought:

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Blog/Web roundup

The New Wisdom has some proposals to ensure that abortions keep happening even if Roe is overturned. He doesn't seem to understand that there's not anybody working right now to make sure women get safe abortions. Just lots of people obsessing with making sure it's cheap and unsupervised.

Medical News Today makes note of the dispute about claims of 5,000 illegal abortion deaths. They have a feedback box. I gave them information about how the number doesn't make any logical sense, since it would mean that 10% of all deaths of women of childbearing age were due to botched abortions. Not to mention that the biggest drop in death rates among women was in the post-menopausal group. Men had a bigger drop in deaths over the decade that saw abortion legalized! (HT: En Medias Ra)

Peak Olav respects abortionists because they actually do the dirty work rather than just support it in words and at the ballot box. I can't tell if this is satire, sarcasm, or sincere.

GOP Bloggers post to Dean on The Party of Abortion. Amen. Democratic leaders whining that people view their party as the Abortion Party sound like Michael Jackson whining that people think he's odd. Well, DUH!

One more time, with feeling

I blogged earlier this week about how abortion advocacy claims of 5,000 to 10,000 maternal deaths per year from illegal abortion just don't pass the common sense test. About 50,000 women of childbearing age were dying per year of all causes, and it simply defies belief to say that ten to twenty percent of them were dying from botched abortions. Also, roughly 1,500 women per year were officially noted as having died from all pregnancy and childbirth related causes combined. It defies belief that there were three to six times more women dying of criminal abortions, with their deaths escaping detection despite intense efforts by law enforcement and public health officials combined.

But some folks still aren't convinced. So there's one other way we can check to see if the claims even remotely make sense. That's to look at death rates among women of reproductive age before and after legalization, and see if there was a 10-20% drop without a corresponding drop among other demographic groups.

So, we'll look at death rates for 1967 and 1977. Since the first states started really loosening their abortion laws in 1968, New York and California established abortion-on-demand in 1970, and Roe came down in 1973, surely if legalization was having such a dramatic impact on women's mortality we'd see the difference.

The number of deaths per 1,000 among females age 15-24 was 0.6 through the decade ending in 1967. For 25-34 year-old females, the death rate fell to 1.0 in 1967, from 1.1 the previous nine years. For 35-44 year-old women, the rate was 2.3 in 1967, as is was for most of the previous nine years. The age group below childbearing age, 5-14 years old, had a death rate of 0.3. The age group above childbearing age, 45-54, had a death rate of 5.1. Just to be on the safe side, assuming that a lot of "change-of-life babies" were being aborted, and their mothers dying as a result, we'll go into the 55-64 age range, among whom the death rate was 11.2.

Now fast forward to 1977. The number of deaths per 1,000 females age 15-24 was 0.6, as it had been for the previous four years. It has moved up to 0.7 from 1968-1973, then came back down. For women age 25-34, the death rate was 0.8 in 1977, showing a continued downward trend that is paralleled among males in that age group, whose death rate fell from 2.1 to 1.9 in the same period. For women age 35-44, the number was 1.8, having fallen gradually for the decade. Again, males in that age range saw an even larger decline, from 4.1 to 3.2. At the fringe of childbearing age, 45-54, we saw a large drop, to 4.4. Again, the drop in the death rate among males was even greater, from 9.9 in 1968 to 8.1 in 1977. And among females in the 55-64 age group, the death rate was 9.9, a dramatic drop, similar to the drop in the death rate among males in that age range, from 23.4 in 1968 to 19.4 in 1977. And the death rate among females younger than childbearing age, 5-14 years of age, was 0.3.

The greatest drops in mortality rates over the decade that saw abortion legalized were among men, and women too old to get pregnant. Wow! Either legalizing abortion had some sort of ripple effect that benefitted men and post-menopausal women more than it did women of childbearing age, or it didn't have much of an impact at all.

Let's look at those numbers again:
  • The death rate among females under childbearing age (5-14 years old) stayed steady at 0.3 deaths per 1,000 for the decade.
  • The death rate among females in their early childbearing years (15-25) stayed at or near 0.6 for the decade.
  • The death rate among females in their later childbearing years (25-34) fell from 1.0 to 0.8, a fall that was the paralleled among males in that age group, whose death rate fell from 2.1 to 1.9.
  • The death rate among females at the end of their childbearing years (35-44) fell from 2.3 to 1.1, a fall that was less than that among males of that age range, whose death rate fell from 4.1 to 3.2.
  • The death rate among women just past childbearing (45-54) but still possibly able to become pregnant in some cases, fell from 5.1 to 4.4; males in that age range saw their death rate fall from 9.9 to 8.1.
  • The death rate among clearly post-menopausal women (55-64) fell from 11.2 to 9.9, similar to the fall in death rates for men, from 23.4 to 19.4

If 5,000 to 10,000 women of childbearing age were dying from botched criminal abortions, we should have seen a drop in deaths among females among childbearing age that was ten to twenty percent greater than the drop among either males or among females outside reproductive age. But we didn't. Clearly there was no mysterious cause of death among fertile females that vanished with the legalization of abortion.

Right intention, wrong approrach

Pro Life With Christ blogs the Life News story of congresscritters trying to ban RU-486 in the wake of the Danco announcement of five sepsis deaths following off-label use.

Focusing on the drug and on trying to ban its use, even temporarily, is knee-jerk and it shows. The far better approach, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, is to zoom in on the fact that it was sloppy practice. After all, mainstream media are readily covering the fact that the facilities where the women got their fatal abortions were not doing what they were supposed to do. And one of them, the one where Holly Patterson got her drugs, was a Planned Parenthood, for crying out loud! That should help quiet the "Only a few fringe quacks do that sort of thing!" cries that we usually get from abortion advocates in the wake of scandal.

Friday, July 22, 2005

She was getting better right up until they killed her

Erika Peterson, age 28, was admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, on July 11, 1961, because of problems breathing. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed in an iron lung. Erica was in the first trimester of pregnancy.

At this time, abortion was only legal in California if it was done to save the life of the mother. For reasons not disclosed in the autopsy report, Erika's physicians made the decision to abort her child as soon as she was well enough to undergo the abortion. This decision may have been influenced by the fact that Erika had been on medication for schizophrenia.

On July 21st, Erika's condition was improved, and her husband signed the consent form for the abortion, which was scheduled to take place two days later. So on July 23, doctors began the procedure to abort Erika's fetus.

Erika went into cardiac arrest during the abortion and was unable to be resuscitated. The abortion that was ostensibly intended to save her life ended her life instead.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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How realistic are those numbers?

Exactly how realistic are the claims that 5,000 to 10,000 women were dying from botched abortions every year prior to legalization? Well, I checked the vital statistics, and if we look at females aged 15-44 in 1960, a full 13 years before Roe vs. Wade, there were 49,106 deaths. If 5,000 of them were due to illegal abortion, that would mean that 10 percent of deaths among girls and women of childbearing age were due to illegal abortions. If 10,000 were dying from botched abortions, then 20 percent of all women of childbearing age in the US were dying due to botched criminal abortions. That's one in five, people!

The official total deaths from pregnancy and childbirth complications for the year was 1,579. If the 5,000 to 10,000 deaths claim was accurate, that would mean that 3 to 6 times more women were dying unnoticed from illegal abortions than were dying from all detected pregnancy related causes combined.

Is this really believable?

Here are the real numbers:

Blog roundup

David W. Boles drags the "coathanger abortion" urban legend out of mothballs to scare the bejeebers out of a bunch of young female college students. I told him not to forget to warn them about the guy with the hook who hangs out on Lovers Lane! If you're going to scare them go all the way! (HT: Reasonable Force)

King over at Extreme Liberalism doesn't grasp how the Supreme Court works, and blogs, "I find it disturbing that there is even a possibility that abortion could be banned by the Supreme Court." Um, King, the Court wouldn't ban it; abortion would be returned to the states. He also says, "32 years after its legalization, 78,000 women die each year from abortions performed outside of the law." Yikes! Where's he getting that number from?! According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 98,000 females between the ages of 15 and 54 die of all causes in the US every year. This guy is asserting that nearly 80% of those deaths are due to illegal abortions! And this is an improvement, no doubt, over the old pre-Roe situation where all deaths of women and girls of childbearing age were due to botched abortions!

Hobo Barbie at Time and Human Response laments, "We are not all able to escape the horror of rapists and trauma of abortion" but seems to be afraid that a man on the Supreme Court will take the trauma of abortion away from women. Well, she's a Barbie. She's blonde. She's made of vinyl. So she's entitled to be confused and/or confusing.

Idiots at the Wheel is a guy who doesn't get it: It seems a bit strange to me that a court of 8 men and one woman would be asked to tell a woman how to handle her own body. The 8 men (and myself too) have no idea what it means to carry a baby to term and then all the extra bits of childbirth etc.. Men telling women in a dictatorial manner what do with themselves. Hey it was a bunch of men who invented this supposed "right" to abortion to begin with. If men have no business being involved, then they had no business inventing a "right" to abortion in the first place. They're not the ones climbing on the abortion table and getting their bowels torn up by mistake. They're not the ones ending up sterile. They're not the ones suffering the emotional trauma or dying from complications. If men could get pregnant, childbirth would be a competitive sport and there'd be no such thing as abortion.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Another sad safe-n-legal anniversary

On July 22, 1974, twenty-two-year-old Carol Wingo died of a Demerol over dose during an abortion at Mercy General Hospital in Detroit. Despite the name, Mercy was not a general hospital. It was an abortion hospital. It was also a hospital in big trouble even before Carole's death. The Michigan Public Department of Health had cited Mercy for 43 violations of nursing standards and 12 violations of physical plant standards in October of 1973, and had withheld their license. Among the violations were that the operating room lacked a cardiac monitor, a resuscitator, and a defibrillator.

Other safe-n-legal deaths in 1974 include:

The CDC counted 26 total legal abortion deaths for 1974, 6 illegal abortion deaths, and one induced abortion death in which they were unable to determine if the abortion had been legal or illegal.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Op-R roundup

An RU-486 abortion patient was highly distressed to see her expelled embryo. She sent her story and a photo of the embryo to Operation Rescue.

They also report that Central Women's Services in Wichita has contracted to have aborted babies autoclaved and dumped in a landfill.

More Florida quackery

Two Miami abortion facility owners have been charged with hiring unlicensed people to perform abortions. Jose Rodriguez, 52, and Magaly Gil, 56, both of Miami, were were released on $5,000 bond, according the Miami Herald Kieron Nisbet performed abortions at Rodriguez and Gil's Best Care Women's Center in November. He also did abortions at A Woman's Care II in Hialeah. A warrant was issued for Nisbet's arrest in April, but he appears to have fled to his native Trinidad.

Officials moved to revoke A Woman's Care II's license. At first the facility fought in court, but then voluntarily surrendered the license after the Florida Department of Health and the Miami-Dade Police Department began a joint investigation.

The story at LifeNews explores the deceptive methods Rodriguez and Gil used to cover up the fact that unlicensed practitioners were doing abortions at their facility.

The story also reports that A Gyn Diagnostic Center, an abortion facility, was using an abortionist, Robelto A. Osborne, whose license had been revoked by the state months beforehand for botching a series of abortions. Osborne had previously been an abortion practitioner at A Woman's Choice Clinic in Miami Lakes.

Let's go down memory lane and look at some other Florida quackery:

RU-486 deaths linked to sloppy practices

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle notes that the four reported California RU-486 deaths "occurred among women who were treated at clinics that didn't follow FDA-approved instructions for the two- pill regimen." The other death, that of Brenda Vise in Tennessee, also followed an abortion done against the recommend regimen.

In other words, the blame evidently lays squarely with the abortionists. Gosh, what a surprise, to find American abortionists cutting corners in ways that cost women their lives! Who woulda thunk it!?

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

AP covering abortion death dispute!

This AP article notes that Barbara Boxer, et al, and being held accountable for the use of the discredited 5,000 maternal deaths claim should Roe be overturned!
Supporters of abortion rights cite the estimate that some 5,000 women a year died from illegal and unsafe abortions before the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Opponents call the figure grossly exaggerated, noting that after the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, the official count of abortion-related deaths plummeted — to 193 by 1965.

The article notes that Boxer and company claim that deaths were grossly underreported, and quotes Boxer defending her bogus figures:
"You have to know that it is estimated that there were up to 1.2 million illegal abortions every year, so this 5,000 is four-tenths of 1 percent. I think it's actually an understated number," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told The Associated Press. "I personally believe it's higher than that, given the fact that these were back-alley, and a lot of them done in unsanitary situations."

The AP story notes that ProLifeBlogs and After Abortion pointed out how bogus Boxer's numbers are.

According to the AP story, Boxer's aids cite the 1968 book "Septic Abortion" by Dr. Richard H. Schwarz, and "Many abortion-rights advocates also cite a 1982 article written by three scholars in Family Planning Perspectives, a publication of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights. The scholars' conclusion: "As many as 5,000 to 10,000 women died per year from illegal abortions" during some stages in the pre-Roe era." Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you follow these more recent claims to their original source, you still get Taussig's flawed estimate.
NARAL Pro-Choice America spokesman Ted Miller told the AP that "the 5,000 number is one we've always been comfortable with."

Well, of course they're comfortable with it! They've been successful in scaring people with it for nearly forty years now!

The AP story goes on to note,
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the best estimates of abortion-related deaths suggest that the number of women who died from abortion-related causes was significantly higher before the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, which permitted more effective treatment of the infections that frequently developed after illegal abortion.

The article then notes the fall in abortion as the official cause of death from nearly 2,700 in 1930 to around 1,700 in 1940, 316 in 1950, and 193 in 1965. But it then adds an AGI caveat that "it is probable that the number of deaths due to abortion was much greater than officially reported".

On the one hand, kudos for covering this and getting the numbers out. On the other hand, this is just a surface examination. Let's keep up the pressure! Write to thank them for investigating, but let's not let them just sit back and rest until they've brought up the following vital points:

1. A woman's abortion death was not mere medical malpractice prior to decriminalization. It was homicide! It was taken so seriously that the first person ever sentenced to the electric chair in Illinois was a doctor whose patient died of a botched abortion. An anonymous phone tip was enough to get a woman's body exhumed to see if she had actually died from a criminal abortion. How likely, really, was it that healthy young women could be dying in such large numbers without raising suspicions?

2. Before legalization, maternal mortality studies involved intense searches for possible abortion deaths. Researchers pestered doctors, hospitals, coroners, and law enforcement. Public health officials were well aware of the possibility that a young woman's death might well be due to criminal abortion. Are we supposed to believe that these in-depth studies really only found the tip of the iceburg?

3. Pre-legalization abortions were done mostly by doctors. Doctors who risked going to jail if they screwed up. These guys didn't quit with legalization. Although there's no doubt that additional physicians started doing abortions, the same old guys who had been doing abortions when it was illegal kept right at it, sometimes with fatal results. Two former criminal abortionists, Jesse Ketchum and Milan Vuitch, had never been linked to an illegal abortion death but each went on to kill two women with sloppy practices after legalization. If you look at mortality trends, it's clear that legalization's impact on mortality, if there was any impact at all, was slight, since the downward trend had been in place for 70 years before legalization.

Here are the email addresses again:

JUSTIN M. NORTON is the Associated Press writer who didn't fact-check his Sen. Barbara Boxer story, thus making himself an accessory to journalistic error/"perjury" with the urban legend about "5,000+ abortions if Roe is reversed."

Associated Press' BURL OSBORNE, Chairman,
TOM CURLEY, AP President and CEO,
at the email addies:,, .

Annie CC'd:
Annenberg Public Policy Center
320 National Press Building
Washington DC 20045

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Another sad safe-n-legal anniversary

"Sheryl" was 23 years old when she chose abortion. She had a history of sickle cell anemia and three live births. She was in her first trimester of pregnancy when she underwent the abortion on July 11, 1970. Nine days later, July 20, she died from sickle cell crisis.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Five reported US deaths from RU-486

Danco Laboratories, the maker of Mifeprex, one of the two drugs used in chemical abortions, says it is changing the labels to include updated safety information. Danco also said that the company had gotten reports of five women who have died of sepsis after chemical abortions with the drug. Danco released a statement saying that the company got "reports of five deaths from serious bacterial infection and sepsis" since the abortion drug got FDA approval in September 2000.

Publicity surrounded the deaths of Brenda Vise and Holly Patterson.

Holly died September 17, 2003. Brenda died September 12, 2001. Danco reported that four of the woman died in California. Assuming that Holly was one of the officially noted deaths, that means that three additional California women have died: one in 2003, one in early 2004, and "a recent one in mid 2005."

The question remains as to how many women have actually died after chemical abortions in the US. The Danco release only addresses sepsis, not hemorrhage or other complications. The Danco report can also, by definition, only include women whose deaths were reported to the company.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Three tragic anniversaries

Betty Hines was 21 years old when she was checked into Doctors Hospital in California for an abortion to be performed by Dr. A. Mitchell on July 19, 1971. Betty was eight weeks pregnant. There didn't seem to be anything wrong during the procedure. Betty was transferred to the recovery room, when she suddenly went into cardio-respiratory arrest. Betty's death was attributed to massive intravascular sickling due to underlying sickle cell disorder.

The tragic death of Betty Hines also reveals a problem with abortion advocates' claims about legal abortion safety. They often point out that after California legalized abortion in 1970, hospital admissions for abortion complications dropped significantly. But until Roe vs. Wade struck down California's law, all abortions had to be done in hospitals. This meant that if the woman suffered complications during or shortly after her abortion, she was already in a hospital and therefore she would not be admitted for the complications. The hospital admissions search that "proved" a drop in complications counted only women whose complications didn't develop until after they'd left the hospital.

A year to the day earlier, on the other side of the United States, 31-year-old "Alice" underwent a 14-week saline abortion in New York City. She had a history of rheumatic heart disease and two previous live births. After the saline was injected, she developed acute pulmonary edema and died.

Going even further back in time, July 19 is the anniversary of an illegal abortion death as well. According to the New York TImes, 17-year-old Gertrude Wynants died on July 19, 1925, of a criminal abortion. Mrs. Margaret Shott Higgens, age 23, was indicted for manslaughter in Gertrude's death.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Monday, July 18, 2005

On Eric Rudolph, et al.

A reader made a snide comment that she thinks the reason I've posted nothing about the sentencing about Eric Rudolph because my prolife commitment isn't strong enough to have me condemn murder.

1. Eric Rudolph is only tangentially about abortion. He bombed the freaking Olympics, a fact that gets largely ignored in the media because it's much more satisfying to play martyr and pretend that it's all about "women's clinics." To say that the Eric Rudolph case is related to the prolife movement is like saying that the Unabomber is related to environmentalists. Mad bombers will pick a cause that gives them an excuse for blowing people up. Any cause will do.

2. I've said it before: Using violence to fight abortion is neither wise nor innocent, and is unjustified. Period, paragraph.

Enough said.

Must read!

Thought for the Day posted this excellent reflection, "I can't hear you while that gun is pointed at my head." Wow! This is a must-read!

One day, two needless deaths

One woman in Georgia, and one in Indiana, died of abortion complications on the same day, July 18, in 1979.

Twenty-year-old Gail Vroman had undergone an abortion performed on July 14 by New York abortionist Taskin Ratharathorn at Ft. Wayne Women's Health Organization. Within two hours, Gail was transferred to a nearby hospital. Gail died of massive infection on July 18. The coroner ruled that the death was caused by clostridium perfringens, or "gas gangrene."

Geneva Calton, age 21, mother of two, underwent an abortion at Northside Family Planning Service in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 18. On the drive back home she was in pain, but she figured that this was just the cramping the clinic had told her to expect. At 8:30 that evening, Geneva was admitted to a hospital, with no vital signs detected. Doctors attempted to resuscitate her, to no avail. She was pronounced dead. The autopsy found that Geneva's uterus had been perforated. She had bled to death.

The clinic where Geneva's fatal abortion was performed seems to be the same clinic where Catherine Pierce underwent her fatal abortion in 1989.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

"Don't like abortion? Don't Have One!" Redux

If you spend any time poking around the Be Not Afraid site, you'll notice a theme: Many of these women had to fight to avoid unwanted abortions. Just read what these moms had to go through:

Jaime: [Immediately after giving us the diagnosis, the] doctor had proceeded to tell us there was a room upstairs to start an induction. She never asked me or had said go home, rest, make an informed decision when you are thinking clearly. .... Being in that kind of mental state, I ended up following her upstairs. For hours all I could do was sob....

Fortunately, the doctors' attempts to abort Jaime's child was unsuccessful. Jaime went home, continued her pregnancy, and cherished the time she was able to have with her baby.

Lori: I called the [genetics counseling] office the day before the appointment to ask directions and ask what they would do for our baby. They promptly told me that they would arrange for the abortion right away. I said that I was not going to have one. ....

Two hospitals that we called would not see us, due to her condition being fatal, one of which ... told us that the baby's brain had more wrong than just hydrocephalus. .... They also refused to deliver because she was too complicated....

Our last stop and last hope ... would not deliver because she was going to die anyway. One doctor said, "She'll be nothing but a burden, a heartache, and a sorrow." ....

I told the hospital staff that they WERE going to deliver her. To help them see things my way, I [said]: "[When I go into labor] I'll show up unannounced to the E.R. Then you'll have a real mess on your hands. One, or both of us die, you get sued and end up on the news. Try me!"

This got the hospital to agree to delivery Lori's baby. The baby, Donna Joy, was not doomed, as doctors predicted. She does have health problems but is a joy to her family.

Sarah: [The doctor who did the diagnosis] told us our best option was to terminate. He said we were young; we could just start over and forget this ever happened.

We were devastated. I cried all the way home. When I arrived home, I called my doctor and told her what happened, and she said “we don’t see people like you here”. .... So I called around to different doctors and no one wanted to see me. The doctors who would see me suggested we terminate and when we refused, they suddenly didn’t have any openings. We finally got an appointment at University of Michigan Hospital, with Dr. Van De Venn. .... He suggested we terminate, but when we refused he said, "Then we will do everything we can to get him the help he needs". It was such a relief to finally find someone to help this child.

Though Sarah's baby has some health problems, he's a bubbly, happy little boy.

Michelle: That night, we were told that our baby had multiple defects. .... Most of the doctors we saw were telling us we should go for a late term abortion. They told us that with the heart defects, the baby would never sustain life. They told us that she would most likely be still born. .... They said that she would probably never take a breath, and if she did, she would be a shell of a baby. They quickly passed us on to a new set of doctors, because they felt that the risks were to high for them to continue to see me through my pregnancy, they were against carrying to term.

Michelle insisted on carrying to term, and though her baby has health problems, she is a joy to her family.

JoAnne: We left that appointment feeling so lost, and needing so many answers. We got second and third opinions, met with geneticists, obstetricians, radiologists, neonatologists, etc. Everyone told us the same thing- terminate the pregnancy. ....

We told my doctor that we would not terminate the pregnancy, and he insisted that I speak to a counselor. He gave me a phone number which I called- .... I called the number and began to tell my story to a counselor named Patty. I had no idea that Patty was a counselor for an abortion clinic. After hearing my story, she explained to me that because I was already 21 weeks pregnant, I had to make an appointment quickly-I only had up to 24 weeks to terminate. ....

We switched doctors because my original doctor was uncomfortable with my continuing the pregnancy- he felt it was too risky and would not deliver the baby. The hospital I was going to deliver at felt the same way, so at 5 months pregnant, I began searching for a new doctor and a new hospital. We were amazed at how difficult a task this was. Some doctors agreed to deliver the baby, but it was quite obvious by their comments and attitude that they felt we were wasting their time. After much searching and many consultations, we were so lucky to ... doctors who fully respected our beliefs and our desire to have this baby.

JoAnne and her family cherished the short time they were able to have with their baby.

Christine: The attending physician called us into her office and explained that from the sonogram that it looked very likely that we had a Trisomy 18 baby. She suggested we get an immediate amnio so we could "make our decision". One thing my husband and I kept repeating was that termination was not an option for us. .... The medical staff didn't understand us. The attending physician sent us to the genetic counselor that was affiliated with the hospital.

Things went from bad to worse. The counselor emphasized how horrible and fatal this condition was. We told her that termination was not an option for us. We got the response, " Are you doing this for religious reasons?" They did not know what to do with a couple who decided to continue a pregnancy like this in spite of the diagnosis. I asked her if she had any support for me. She said she would get back to me and give me the name of someone who had a child like this. I am still waiting.....

She said there was a lot of support if we terminated, she offered us nothing to continue with this pregnancy. I was shocked. The doctors and medical people at the big hospital didn't get us. My baby and I were under attack. Their goal was to have us terminate before 24 weeks. They did not give us an ounce of hope or support. We scheduled an amnio for the next day. But then we cancelled it. I never went back. The thought of going back was like going into hell.

She asked if we wanted to see a priest. .... She sent us to a priest out east from where we were. Aha! I thought, a priest will tell us what we are doing is good. All the medical people acted like we were crazy to keep our baby. My husband and I went to see this priest. Boy, were we in for a shock! He sat us down and basically told us how hard it would be to continue a pregnancy like ours. "You know you are going to get bigger and bigger each day Chris, it is going to be very hard to do this". He also said that these babies are very sick- there will be a lot of suffering. I couldn't believe my ears! I was expecting the priest to give us encouragement, support and resources on how to do this. Instead, he told us we should pray for a miscarriage and he told me how to bury my baby. We left his office without any resources, alone and helpless. ....

My OB was much different. We finally saw him a few days after the ultrasound. I did not want to be pressured any more. MY OB respected my decision to continue the pregnancy and said that he would support us. ....

In order to do all this I needed support. I did not get any resources from the medical community, nor did I get it from the church. Instead, soon after the diagnosis, I contacted a group called the Sisters of Life. They connected me to a group in Canada called Morning Light Ministry. I got spiritual and practical guidance from Morning Light Ministry to carry Grace to term. I had to hunt for and research these groups on my own. I really would have appreciated getting this either from the genetics counselors or the priests I talked to in the first days.

Christine and her family had two precious months with their beautiful daughter.

Stephanie: This woman began to explain all of the blood testing that was done and explain the defects they had believed they found to be wrong with our baby. After about an hour of explanations she asked us what our plans were for this baby. I was a little confused on what she meant about plans. So, I asked her. she told me that she recommended we terminate the pregnancy and before we knew it I could be pregnant again with a healthy baby. She even went so far as to get the appointment book out to schedule an appointment. She left me no other alternative.


The cardiologist said that she could not see his heart very well, so she could not tell us definitely that he was going to be ok, and she also said the there was a hole in his heart that should close and she could not tell us for sure it would. We left the office knowing absolutely nothing more than when we went in! However before leaving we were again offered information on the process of abortion!!

Though Stephanie's baby does indeed have medical problems, they are nowhere nearly as grave as the professionals kept telling her they would be. She treasures her son that so many people wanted her to abort.

Nancy: I went back July 7 and the "specialist" told me there were a number of things she saw wrong. .... She said that the baby had "severe chromosome abnormalities, incompatible with life" and that we should go to California immediately and abort the baby. .... She even offered to go before the Arizona Medical Board to get permission for a late term abortion (I was 26 weeks), but strongly urged us to terminate as soon as possible. ....

I went home devestated, in shock, and went on the internet to research the problems she had found. .... We returned for another checkup a week later to let her know what we were going to do, and we told her about what we had found. She said "You aren't looking at the Big Picture". .... She said I was "letting myself in for more pain" and that I should not wait any longer to have the abortion. She would not even talk about the alternate things we had found, and pressured us to "take care of the problem" immediately. ....

Well, a week later she called us with FISH results (preliminary to the amnio), to let us know that it was "worse" than she thought, and that she had never seen results like this before. She said she would go before the Board immediately to get permission for the abortion.

Nancy stood firm, and later delivered a premature but otherwise perfectly healthy baby.

Blog roundup

Crooks and Liars don't understand why so many prolifers simply assume a prochoice woman contemplates abortion with every pregnancy. How about the fact that we get it from listening to abortion advocates? Hear enough people talk about how it's all about the woman's will and not biology, about how the existence of the fetus is not, in and of itself, significant until the woman chooses to make it significant -- after a while, you start to get the feeling that the positive pregnancy test is seen not as confirmation of pregnancy but as a cue that it's time to make a decision. We take the rhetoric at face value and it perplexes the very people who spout it. Go figure.

I found this blog: Common Ground on Abortion. I'll have to poke around a while over a period of time to get a feel for it.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mom fought for baby -- WOW!

I've been reading the stories at Be Not Afraid. This one really floored me! The baby was, docs told mom, doomed. He had kidney problems and the lack of amniotic fluid was leading to lung problems. If he did survive until birth, he'd suffocate afterward. Pressure, pressure, pressure to abort! In a nutshell, the docs told Mom, 'Get with the program, lady! He has no fluid! His lungs can't inflate! If they can't inflate, they can't develop! If they can't develop, he suffocates at birth!" Mom told the docs, "If there's no fluid, PUT SOME IN!!!"

The docs thought she was nuts, but they did what she demanded. And you gotta go read the story and see this little boy for yourself! Way to go, Mom!

Fantastic resource!

Be Not Afraid is an online resource for families facing grave diagnoses during pregnancy.

Will die for sex?

I've commented that with the "Screw Abstinence" party and "Sluts4Choice," there seems to be a strong "Will kill for sex" component to abortion advocacy. Well, it also seems that the fetuses and moms who die from abortions aren't the only ones dying to maintain the casual-sex lifestyle. TheFactIs notes that Study Shows America's Sexual Behavior To Be Highly Lethal.
The high toll of the sexual revolution on the lives of Americans was made apparent in a recently published study showing 1.3 percent of all American deaths to be caused by sexual behavior. The study, from the current edition of the medical journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, examined data from 1998 to determine the overall health burden caused by sexual activity in the US and found that women "bear a disproportionately high proportion" of the cost that comes with sexual liberation.

.... More men then women died in 1998 as a result of sexual behavior - 19,634 men compared to 10,148 women. But almost all of the deaths in men were caused by HIV. "If HIV related mortality were excluded, more than 80% of sexual behaviour related mortality would be among . . . women." The study found that 5,914 women died of non-HIV related sexual behavior; for men the number was number 1,413.

While HIV killed 4,234 women, it was cervical cancer that was leading cause of death for women claiming 4,921 lives. Cervical cancer is caused primarily by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease. ....

You go, Ashli!

Ashli at The S.I.C.L.E. Cell does a good job tearing into a compassionless prolifer who can't understand how a woman like Angele, the woman who tried to save her son after he was born alive during an abortion, could be duped into thinking abortion is necessary.

If I could get one thing through to the "I'd never have an abortion!" crowd, it's that until you've been one of those women who "needs" an abortion, you don't grasp that there but for the grace of God goes any of us. Knowing better can't keep you off the abortion table. Only God's grace can do that. And those who've been blessed, as I have been, with supportive people who helped them out of their own dire situations ought not to judge those who were treated like selfish, blind, irrational dolts for not wanting to go through with a "necessary" abortion.

Every one of us has sinned. All have fallen short. Abortion is just a particularly spectacular way of falling short. But excuse me, there are Ten Commandments, and they're not suggestions. All ten of them are Commandments. God doesn't see things the way we do. He put disrespecting your parents and coveting other people's stuff on the same list as "Don't kill people." We need to take it as a given that He doesn't just shrug it off when we break Commandments that don't have dire consequences immediately discernible to the human eye.

And Jesus didn't come to wipe away the Ten Commandments. He came to embody them and to live them perfectly so that when we break them, as we all do, the guilt shifts to Him and we are absolved. That applies to all sin, not just the sins we personally don't consider too big a deal.

Angele has repented. As far as Jesus is concerned, she has exactly zero guilt for her abortion. But all the righteous folk stand around with stones in hand. Angele's gone beyond mere "sin no more" and is trying to warn other moms about how they, too, could be duped into abortion by the lies people feed to them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Satan's been around for a long time. He is expert at temptation, at leading people into sin. And he managed to disguise himself as an angel of light in Angele's eyes at the lowest moment in her life. The fact that the scales fell from her eyes so quickly speaks well for her. It would have been ever so much easier to go back into the comforting lies. But Angele didn't. She owned up to what she'd done and is trying to atone. What more can anybody expect of her?

Jesus has closed the book on this sin in her life. Would that His purported followers would do likewise!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Coathanger abortions

One of the strongest images in the abortion-advocacy arsenal is that of the desperate woman who, unable to arrange a legal abortion, harms or even kills herself in an attempt to do the abortion herself. There is no denying that some pregnant women attempt, and even die from, grotesque attacks on their own bodies. But is this phenomenon really caused by lack of "access" to legal abortion? Or is there something else going on?

The fact is, most women who encounter trouble arranging a professional abortion will quickly adapt to the pregnancy and even come to welcome the baby. Dr. Aleck Bourne, who in 1938 successfully fought the British law against abortion, said in his memoirs:
Those who plead for an extensive relaxation of the law [against abortion] have no idea of the very many cases where a woman who, during the first three months, makes a most impassioned appeal for her pregnancy to be 'finished,' later, when the baby is born, is thankful indeed that it was not killed while still an embryo. During my long years in practice I have had many a letter of the deepest gratitude for refusing to accede to an early appeal.

Bourne was not the only proponent of legalization who noted that women often changed their minds about abortion. One of the observations of the 1955 Planned Parenthood conference on induced abortion was that, given the chance to work through their problems, most women who sought abortions would reject abortion.

The conference further noted, and Nancy Howell Lee's research confirmed, that the situation before legalization was not one of hoards of women wielding coathangers on themselves. Most women who initially requested abortion changed their minds. Those who persisted in wanting to abort typically managed to arrange an abortion by a physician or a trained para-medical professional with a physician providing backup.

How, then, do we explain the women who turned up in emergency rooms and morgues, horribly injured by aggressive attacks on their own gravid wombs?

First, we have to take into account the fact that these self-abortion attempts very rare. Nancy Howell Lee's research found that serious home abortions were attempted by about 2 percent of women who persisted in wanting to abort. (A greater number made harmless attempts such as hot baths, running up and down the stairs, drinking things like parsley tea, and so forth.) The Planned Parenthood conference estimated that amateur abortions (those performed by people with no medical training or supervision) made up perhaps 8 percent of pre-legalization abortions. But though these tragedies were rare, advocates of legalization held them up as proof that society has an obligation to make professional abortion readily available.

Second, we have to take into account the shocking fact that such abortion attempts persist, even with legal abortion readily available.

Why is it that some women, with legal abortion available, and with information on "self-help" abortions available, will attack their own bodies, or allow someone else to do so? To say that they were simply trying to dislodge an unwanted fetus is facile; there are far safer, less painful means of trying to get rid of a fetus. There is obviously something else going on.

The most coherent explanation for these self-mutilative abortions is evident in the very damage that they do to the woman's body. These self-abortion attempts are most likely manifestations of self-injury, a phenomenon seen in women (and occasionally men) with certain types of mental illness. The injuries range from bruises and scratches to amputation, putting out eyes, or castration. Some of the reasons people self-injure include easing tension, expressing emotional pain or rage, self-punishment, expressing or repressing sexuality, or manipulating others. It's easy to see how a woman who is already predisposed to self-harm might respond to pregnancy with self-injury purely because that's her usual coping mechanism anyway.  (Self-harm behaviors also show signs of being contagious, with members of a social group imitating others who self-harm.)

Nancy Howell Lee found that the women who attempted aggressive self-induced or other obviously dangerous abortions tended to be self-destructive, and to themselves view the abortion attempt as more of an attack on themselves than as an attempt to dislodge the fetus.

Given what we know about self-abuse, and about "coathanger" abortions, it is reasonable to conclude that aggressive self-abortion attempts are best understood as a type of self-harm, and not as attempts to end an ill-timed pregnancy. The best service we can do to women who might attempt such abortions is to provide the best supportive and psychiatric care to self-injurers, and to ensure that professionals are aware that a self-induced abortion might be attempted by these patients.

Conveying messages that such behaviors are normative and to be expected will only make them more common. If the abortion-rights movement is serious about preventing "coathanger" abortions, they'd do well to stop presenting them as if they're a rational and common alternative to the neighborhood abortion facility.

Legalizing abortion did nothing for these women; it merely swept the problem under the rug. We need to bring it back into the open and address it rationally and compassionately.

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Blog roundup

Contested Terrain is plugging the Speak Out: I Had an Abortion film being screened July 21 at the Tribeca Film Center in New York. Of course, only women who've managed to maintain their enthusiasm for abortion are invited to speak out. Only superficial diversity is welcome! And damn! It must be hard maintaining an abortion advocacy movement when the more women who partake of the cherished "right," the more women realize what a sham the whole thing is.

Well-titled throwaway poetry.

DemiOrator's blog entry is a bit confusing to me. She or he doesn't seem to grasp that it was, and would be, the doctors punished for doing the abortions. I tried to post but had no luck.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

More tragic safe-n-legal anniversaries

Today, July 15, is the anniversary of a pre-Roe legal abortion death. Margaret Davis was a 33-year-old homemaker who underwent an abortion at Windsor Hills Hospital in Los Angeles County. Christopher Dotson began the abortion at about noon on July 15, 1971. Dotson said that Margaret started to have breathing and heart problems after the abortion, and that he was uable to revive her. He declared her dead at 3:30 PM of cardiopulmonary failure. An autopsy revealed that Margaret had suffered acute sickle cell crisis triggered by the abortion. More senseless tragedies from pre-Roe legal abortions can be found here.

These deaths were in vain. We continued to act as if abortion was a benign act. Women continued to die. The anniversary of one of those deaths is today.

Thirty-four-year-old Debra M. Gray went to Hillview Women's Medical Center for an abortion on July 12, 1989. A nurse injected her with a fast-acting barbituate to prepare her for the abortion. Debra went into cardiac arrest. The abortionist, Gideon Kioko, indicated that the nurse and other staff expected the drug to induce "twilight sleep" rather than general anesthesia. There was no anesthesiologisst on duty, and no physician supervising the administration of anesthesia medication. When paramedics arrived, they estimated that Debra's brain had been deprived of oxygen for twelve minutes. They rushed Debra to a hospital, where doctors could detect no brain activity. Debra's life suport was disconnected three days later, and she died. The autopsy found traces of heroin in Debra's bloodstream. There was no evidence that the facility had screened Debra for possible drug use.

The same year that Hillview fatally injured Debra, they also fatally injured Suzanne Logan, who languished, paralyzed and unable to speak, until her eventual death on December 1, 1992.

The abortion lobby continues to put imaginary women who might be born someday ahead of the lives of real women walking into abortion facilities now.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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The Nation just doesn't get it.

"Should Roe Go?", by Katha Pollett, shows the same cluelessness as many abortion-advocacy screeds. Some examples:

Pollett leans away from returning abortion to the states because "criminalizing abortion, however briefly, means many, many women would suffer atrociously." Earth to Ms. Pollett: Many, many woman are suffering atrociously because legal abortion is readily available and virtually unregulated. There's trouble in Pollett's version of Paradise, and she's utterly oblivious of it.

Pollett also muses that under a mosaic of abortion laws, "fortunate women in antichoice states would fly to New York or Los Angeles or Chicago, and the less lucky--the poor, the young, the trapped--would have dangerous, illegal procedures or unwanted children. It would be a repeat of 1970-73, when women who could get to New York--but only they--could have a safe, legal version of the operation that was killing and maiming their poorer sisters back home." Again, Ms. Pollett assumes that legal abortion is safe, and that illegal abortion is significantly riskier. See Blast from the Past, Back-Alley Butchers vs. Main-Street Maimers, The Bad Old Days, A Few Bad Apples, and Legal Abortion Killed, Even Before Roe

Pollett says, "Even now, there's only one abortion clinic in Mississippi, and the promised prochoice masses--the 'regular old adult middle-class women'--have yet to arise." Earth to Ms. Pollett: Did it ever occur to you that "regular old adult middle-class women" just aren't as enthusiastic about abortion as she is?

Blast from the Past

Come back with me to 1960, and let's consider the words of then-Medical Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Dr. Calderone's quotes, given below, are from "Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem," published in the July, 1960 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (v. 50 no. 7), pages 948 - 954. If you want a copy to read for yourself, contact the reference desk of your local public or university library, and the librarian can assist you in getting it from microfilm or through Interlibrary Loan.
On the legal status of abortion at the time (c. 1960)
Dr. Calderone: "In 46 states legal abortion is permitted to preserve the life of the mother; three states allow, in addition, preservation of the health of the mother."

On the typical criteria for a legal abortion.
Dr. Calderone: "[T]herapeutic abortions are for the most part being done on the word of psychiatrists that the unwilling mother will otherwise commit suicide."

On the medical risks of pregnancy and therapeutic abortions be for medical reasons.
Dr. Calderone: "[M]edically speaking, that is, from the point of view of diseases of the various systems, cardiac, genitourinary, and so on, it is hardly ever necessary today to consider the life of a mother as threatened by a pregnancy."

On abortion mortality before legaliation.
Dr. Calderone: "In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortion of any kind." (Note: This means legal abortions, illegal abortions, and miscarriages combined.)

On the 1955 Planned Parenthood conference on abortion's findings about abortion mortality trends.
Dr. Calderone: "In New York City in 1921 there were 144 abortion deaths, in 1951 there were only 15." (Note: Abortion was illegal in New York the entire time covered by this dramatic drop in deaths.)

On how abortion deaths were being reduced without legalization.
Dr. Calderone: "[F]irst, ... antibiotics have come in, benefitting all surgical procedures as well as abortion. Second, and even more important, the [1955 Planned Parenthood Conference on Induced Abortion] estimated that 90 per cent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians."

On the character and qualifications of illegal abortion practitioners.
Dr. Calderone: "Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is."

On reports of grotesque abortion attempts and the injuries and deaths they produced.
Dr. Calderone: "Whatever trouble arises usually comes after self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 per cent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortion."

On the need for adequate pre-abortion counseling.
Dr. Calderone: "Conference members agreed, and this was backed up by evidence from the Scandinavians, that when a woman seeking an abortion is given the chance of talking over her problem with a properly trained and oriented person, she will in the process very often resolve many of her qualms and will spontaneously decide to see the pregnancy through, particularly if she is assured that supportive help will continue to be available to her."

On the importance of helping women resolve their concerns and, if possible, avoid abortion.
Dr. Calderone: "Aside from the fact that abortion is the taking of a life, I am also mindful of what was brought out by our psychiatrists -- that in almost every case, abortion, whether legal or illegal, is a traumatic experience that may have severe consequences later on."

There you have it, folks!