Because they screwed up an induction abortion and ended up doing a D&E (The author calls it a "D&C" because the terminology for D&E hadn't been coined yet.) extemporaneously, without their "doctor" present:
Four counselors were working at the apartment one Thursday, breaking water bags and inserting Leunbach paste for long-term miscarriages. [Primitive induction abortions - ed.] The fourth and last patient for the day was a 19-year-old black woman, about 14 weeks pregnant fully counseled and prepared for a labor and miscarriage.
.... We dilated the patient and reached in with a forceps to break the membrane. Two other counselors were talking to the patient and watching.
There was the usual gush of water slightly pink with blood—and in the teeth of the forceps the arm of a 14-week fetus.
The counselor who was doing the abortion looked silently at the forceps and its contents for a full ten seconds. The other counselors were silent... watching.
Finally the woman asked, “Is anything wrong.”
“Not at all,” the counselor replied. “In fact, I think we’ll do you direct and get the whole thing over with today.”
Suddenly the room was charged with energy again. One counselor began talking animatedly to the woman, explaining a D&C, while the other stood ready to help. The patient remained calm and confident.
“Okay—this is one of those times when there is no choice but to... so go.
. . . Remember... be cool... we’ve seen it done a thousand times.. . reach in again with the forceps. .. gently explore the wall of the uterus ... feel for loose material . . . twist ever so gently to make sure it’s loose . . . pull slowly through the cervix.
...Another arm and hand...a big piece of placenta . . a leg . . . an endless length of tiny intestine . . . a large bone that comes with a stronger tug—a shoulder . . .
. . . The woman winces as a hip bone is pulled through the cervix . . . the other leg . . . the ribs . . . a two inch length of backbone.
. . . Now with each tug, there’s a small gush of blood. Only the head is left. Forget that for now and get the placenta off the wall so the bleeding will stop— switch to a curette and scrape the placenta down towards the opening.
Now . . . back to the forceps—in and out, in and out—pulling the loose placenta out. The bleeding stops almost entirely.
Now feel with the forceps, find the head, crush it and pull. Harder. The patient moans softly as a piece of skull is pulled out, then the next piece, and finally the last piece.
“There. All done.”
Suddenly the room is in bedlam. One counselor is jumping around and yelling, “We can do it ourselves! From now on, we can do it ourselves!”
What a thing to be proud of. Put that on your resume: I can take apart a baby. And dance a jig with my friends afterward to celebrate.
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