First of all, the idea of a "health" indication for a third-trimester abortion is fatuous. The standard of care for over fifty years has been to do one of three things:
1. Stop trying to halt premature labor (which the mother's health problem will often trigger) and just allow the baby to be born.
2. Perform an emergency c-section.
3. Induce labor.
These are the procedures that a conscientious physician will perform, usually trying to time decisions to maximize the survival chances of the baby while minimizing risks to the mother. This is the standard of care -- a standard that any woman with a real health problem late in pregnancy deserves.
It's totally nonsensical to claim that it benefits the mother's health in any way to perform an additional procedure, either before or during the termination of the pregnancy, to achieve a dead fetus. In Tiller's practice, the additional procedure was an injection of digoxin (the drug used in lethal injections) into the baby's heart. What possible health benefit does the mother gain by having a long needle jammed through her abdomen into her uterus?
You can further gauge how nonsensical the idea that Tiller's patients had compelling health issues when you remember that Tiller's facility is an outpatient facility. The woman, accompanied by a friend or family member, travels to the outpatient facility. For two or three days, she stays in a motel room with her companion, making a daily visit to the outpatient facility to have procedures done to force her cervix open. What possible medical problem can she have where a doctor would prescribe spending three days in a motel room with a companion who has no medical training? Why, if the woman's health is in danger, would she not be in a hospital, with 24-hour medical supervision? Why, if the woman's health is already fragile, would you add the sepsis risk involved in spending three days with her baby's corpse rotting inside her uterus?
When the woman has health problems late in pregnancy, the only logical reason to take extra steps to kill the fetus before you get it out -- is to kill the fetus. There's nothing that benefits the mother's health to subject her to the extra invasive fetocidal process.
Now, lest you think I'm making all this up:
Here are some examples of Tiller's abortions, two women's stories and a listing of the counts of illegal abortion originally filed by A.G. Kline.
Of the 30 original criminal complaints filed against Tiller, they were based on a review of patient records. The compelling medical reasons given in Tiller's records for these third-trimester abortions were:
(In one case the PDF of the complaint was blurred so I was unable to determine what, if any, medical justification Tiller claimed for selling the abortion.)
Now, what were these abortions like for the women going through them?
Here are excerpts from one woman's story:
Michelle Berge, (now Michelle Armesto), received an abortion at Women's Health Care Services ,,, while she was 18 years of age and in her 24th week of pregnancy. ....
The patient ... did not want the abortion and only reluctantly went along after days of intense pressure and threats from her mother and father where she was caused to fear the loss of their love and permanent expulsion from their family. She received further pressure to abort from a WHCS employee during a phone call that the patient's mother had arranged.
The patient and her mother ... arrived approximately one-and-a-half to two hours later for her appointment. Upon arrival, she was placed immediately into a group with several other women also receiving late-term abortions, who were in the process of watching a video about the Tiller abortion legacy.
From there, without having spoken to anyone or signed any paperwork, including a medical history and consent forms, the patient was taken to a room with an ultrasound machine. She asked to see the viewing screen but was prevented from doing so by the clinic worker who performed her ultrasound. At approximately 11:10 AM, Tiller employee abortionist Shelley Sella, using the ultrasound imaging to guide her, administered a digoxin injection through the patient's abdomen that was supposed to go into her baby's heart. ....
After receiving the injection, the patient was sent to the receptionist to fill out her medical hisotry and consent forms, which were signed at 11:50 AM, 40 minutes after the abortion process was begun and drugs administered. There was no effort before the injection to insure that the patient was over 18, or that she suffered from any kind of condition that would meet the legal requirement of "substantial and irrerversible impairment," either physically or mentally, for an abortion after 21 weeks. ....
In the three to four minutes that she spent with Tiller during her three-day stay, he told her that if one of his children were in her situation, he would have her get an abortion as well. Another clinic worker told the patient that if she had the baby, her life would be over and that she would never be ale to go to college.
The patient, a Catholic convert, believes she was given false information at the clinic by a Unity Church minister who told her that abortions were accepted by the Catholic Church, which she later discovered was not true. ....
The patient delivered at the abortion clinic on the third day of the procedure. She refused to deliver her baby into a toilet bowl, as ordered by clinic workers. She felt that pushing her baby into a toilet was a demeaning and grossly inappropriate thing to ask her to do. Instead she delivered her dead baby on the floor next to the commode, a sight that still haunts her to this day. ....
Earlier this year, the patient requested her medical records from Women's Health Care Services and was shocked to larn that her 24-week baby had been diagnosed as "not viable" by Sella. The patient .... had no reason to believe, and had been given no reason to believe, that her baby was anything but healthy. No basis was givn on which the determination of non-viability was made.
Here are excerpts from the other woman's story:
.... I think I was so grateful to him [abortionist George R. Tiller] because he was able to terminate a pregnancy for me becaues I couldn't face the results of that pregnancy.
.... I was newly married had a new home .... We were beyond elated to be having this baby we loved her from the minute we found out she was coming. .... It wasn't until the 23rd of December that it was noticed that there was something wrong during a routine ultrasound. ..... It was then, after a bunch of tests, that they were able to tell me that our daughter, whom we were expecting in less then a month, more then likely had Complete Trisomy 22, a condition incompatable with life.
.... I was then faced with two decision: I could wait and deliver at any time and watch my child expire before my eyes while I stood there helplessly and did nothing, or I could go see this doctor in Wichita who would terminate my pregnancy for me so that I would not have to go through that. I was distraught. I didn't know what to do and I let others sway me into going to see him. ....
Now most of my trip to Kansas is a blur. This is because from the time you arrive at Dr. Tiller's clinic, you are on some form of drugs. You're in a daze. Though I remember a lot, there is a lot I don't remember. I will never however forget the day I was given the digoxin shot through my stomach into the heart of my baby. It took me 45 minutes to calm down enough so that Dr. Tiller and one of his nurses (sic) could come in to do this. I was hysterical because after this there was no turning back. By telling them I was ready for them to come in and do it, I was telling them that it was okay to kill my daughter. They sedated me and then did it.
..... I woke up and my baby was dead. After that I was given a prescription for a drug called "Pentazocine," ....
I was then sent to have laminaria packed up into me. While inserting the laminaria they broke my water "accidentally." I was then shipped off to the La Quinta where my labour began. .... My contractions were less then 5 minutes apart. My mother, who was with me at the time, called down to Edna's room. (-Ed. Note: This is Tiller employee Edna Roach.] Edna told my mom to give me 2 pills, then one every hour. .... After a few hours I was to the point wehre I was begging my mother for no more pills. I was in excruciating pain and I was vomiting from the pills. ....
I remember saying I needed to go to a hospital I didn't care about Dr. Tiller's clinic. I needed another doctor. My mom was crying and she ran into the hall. When she opened the door. the man in the next room heard me crying and screaming. He was a doctor. I thought I was saved! Turns out the doctor in the next room was [Tiller abortionist] Dr. [LeRoy] Carhart. He had just arrived and checked into the hotel. He came in and examined me. Immediately he called Edna and the exchanged some harsh words and he said I needed to go to the clinic NOW.
I had to be carried out to the van. .... At this piont, [my mother and I] were both, like, what did we get ourselves into? What kind of clinic is this? I left the hotal at 5:15 am by the time I got to Dr. TIller's clinic (they brought me in through [Tiller's private] garage) they registered me, undressed me, sedated me, and I delivered my child. It was 6 am, 45 minutes [after I arrived at the clinic.] ....
Now when you first get to teh clinic you get a check list of things you can ask for, [for example] the baby blanket, hand and foot prints, pictures, etc. I asked for these things and they told me they would mail them to me. I was hysterical. I just needed somethign to hold onto. I threw a fit in a waiting room (a waiting room I had never seen before). It was FULL of people. All of a sudden, they brought me my stuff. It seemed to me as soon as my abortion was over they couldn't wait to get rid of me. ....
Now my story is almost over, but there is a little more to it. The prescription I was given there had a refull on it, but it cost 75 dollars US to fill this so I figured I would wait until the next day when I got home to refill this prescription .... So I had been home for 2 days and had not slept. I was vomiting I had nosebleeds, the shakes, the sweats, and uncontrollable spasms. I thought this was because of stress, so I went to see my doctor and he wanted to run tests. I agreed. On my way out his door I remembered my prescription so I gave it to him and asked for the refill. He looked at me with a very strange look on his face and asked me to sit down. He explained to me that this drug was illegal in Canada and he could not give it to me, and that basically it was synthetic heroine (sic). And he couldn't believe the amount of milligrams in eachpill. I then explained to him that I was told to take 2 then one every hour. He then did a quick blood test and it confirmed that the levels of pentazocine in my system now -- let alone 2 days ago -- should have killed me. I was not having all these symptoms from stress. They were my body's way of trying to detox me.
Am am no longer grateul for Dr. Tiller "helping me." He didn't help me at all. I wish now I would [have] had the courage to deliver my little girl and let her get even just one breath of air before she passed, to let her see my face just once before she passed. I will never have that chance now and I will always have to live with the decison I made and the nightmares of what happened to me in Kansas. All I have now is my little 6 lb. 2 oz. daughter's ashes in a tiny silver engraved box in my living room. I have a small box of picturs and footprints and a receiving blanket with green goop on it that I can't bring myself to wash because I think it will wash her away. I still cry every day and I miss her every day. Dr. Tiller didn't help me. He robbed me and I let him. Women need to know what goes on there. ....
Listen to this psychiatrist discuss the "health" reasons that are used to justify late-term abortions at George Tiller's practice, and what conscientious care of those women would have constituted.
Look over the evidence and still insist Tiller was some sort of hero.