Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The measure of a "hero"

Tiller's supporters are defending his "hero" status, insisting that he only did those late abortions on women who, in keeping with Kansas law, had compelling "health" reasons, severe enough that continuing the pregnancy would pose a threat to their lives or their bodily integrity.

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:

  • Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified or Adjustment Disorder With Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood: 1
  • Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode: 9
  • Fetus "non-viable" but with no record of how non-viability was determined: 2
  • Acute Stress Disorder: 2
  • Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: 1
  • No medical basis documented: 14

    (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.
  • 16 comments:

    Tlaloc said...

    And what was the result of the thirty counts against Tiller? Did any authority find even one of them to have merit?

    Krystal said...

    I feel so bad for these woman, I couldn't even imagine what to think if I was forced into this situation.

    Tiller did do some horrible things though. A 6lb baby being aborted?

    Why do woman think it will help them more if they abort rather than deliver their baby and actually be able to hold it and cuddle it, even if it was still born. Usually when you abort you don't even get to see your baby because its in pieces.

    I hope these woman can find peace and hope in their lives.

    SegaMon said...

    Tlaloc, illegal or not, what Tiller has done to his patients have been wrong.

    After the story of these two patients all that you can say is "well, well, uh, the thirty counts didn't fly!"

    If there is an ounce of truth to any of these stories, Tiller should have had his medical license revoked a long time ago.

    Tlaloc said...

    "After the story of these two patients all that you can say is "well, well, uh, the thirty counts didn't fly!""

    Do you really believe those stories when not one of those counts was held up? Why? Isn't it vastly more likely that the stories are exaggerations or fabrications?


    "If there is an ounce of truth to any of these stories, Tiller should have had his medical license revoked a long time ago."

    Indeed, and despite Tiller's actions being considered by review board as well as civil and criminal court he was never found to have acted unethically much less criminally.

    So how many "ounces" of truth do you think are in those stories?

    SegaMon said...

    Are you going to base your opinion only on what others believe?

    Review Board: Are they perfect? What is the information that they had to review? Were they looking purely at medical documentation? Were they being impartial?

    Courts: Are they perfect? Have you ever heard of innocent people being locked up? Have you also heard to guilty criminals walking away with freedom?

    It is good to consider these sources as opinions, but to base your entire personal opinion on what others say is not akin to what we all should be doing. Rather, we should be forming our own opinions based upon as truthful information that we can find.

    This is, I hope, what Christina does when she posts her own opinions and shows her own evidence as she can. This is what I try to do, too. I hope that you can do that, too.

    SegaMon said...

    Is Talwin (pentazocine) only illegal in certain places in Canada? I was wondering because I noticed some websites offering Talwin as "cheap Canadian drugs" while some websites state that it is illegal (in the same league as cocaine, etc.)

    GrannyGrump said...

    Tlaloc, if you can't see that there's no medical justification for a "medically indicated" abortion in which the abortionist doesn't even document a medical justification, the scales on your eyes must be a foot thick.

    GrannyGrump said...

    Sega, it could be that it's only legal to prescribe in certain circumstances, as is the case with controlled substances in the US.

    Amy said...

    Do you really believe those stories when not one of those counts was held up?

    Yes, I do.

    Charges have a funny way of being minimized, or dismissed, when the person faced with them is a big supporter of politicians in high places - like former Kansas governor, now HHS director, Kathleen Sibelius.

    Tlaloc said...

    "Are you going to base your opinion only on what others believe?"

    No, not at all. But when it comes to determining the guilt or innocence of a man I've never met 9and probably none of you have either) I think it is a good idea to use, say, a formal review or court.

    Is that really a controversial contention?

    If people claimed you had committed some great crime would you simply accept their judgment or would you want fair trial by an impartial jury or judge? If pro-choicers tried to get you fired wouldn't you want your boss to actualy evaluate what you had done rather than take your enemy's word for the matter?



    "Review Board: Are they perfect? What is the information that they had to review? Were they looking purely at medical documentation? Were they being impartial?"

    The default assumption is that they were impartial. If you have evidence to the contrary then that's another thing and you should absolutely come forward with it. But given that we KNOW prolifers aren't impartial it's a little odd for them to say "the court/review board/grand jury MIGHT be biased so you should ignore them and listen to me!"

    Ditto the courts/grand jury. But more, the fact that we've had multiple independent groups reach the same conclusion makes it much more unlikely that the conclusion was wrong. Suggesting that all of them were biased (without substantial evidence to that effect) is entering into conspiracy theory-land.


    "Rather, we should be forming our own opinions based upon as truthful information that we can find."

    This would be excellent advice except that there is a huge body of people who can and have proven willing to lie through their teeth to support pro-life issues. Honestly I don't think Christin is one of them, but the interconnected nature of the PL groups means she's almost certainly picked up a lot of garbage from such people and repeated it, believing in good faith that her fellow travelers wouldn't abuse her so.

    When you have people substantially willing to distort fact, and you have no personal access to the issue (and re not going to), it becomes necessary to rely upon experts.

    Tlaloc said...

    "Tlaloc, if you can't see that there's no medical justification for a "medically indicated" abortion in which the abortionist doesn't even document a medical justification, the scales on your eyes must be a foot thick."

    I'm not a doctor, Christian, and neither are you. But you know who are? Members of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

    If your claim were true why wouldn't they know it?

    Tlaloc said...

    "Charges have a funny way of being minimized, or dismissed, when the person faced with them is a big supporter of politicians in high places - like former Kansas governor, now HHS director, Kathleen Sibelius."

    So with the entire might of the pro-life establishment working for decades you never could get one charge substantiated against Tiller due to Sibelius? That's quite some clout she has.

    Furthermore you are strongly insinuating she's guilty of obstruction of justice. If you ave any support for that contention you should be on the phone to the FBI.

    As I said- entering into conspiracy land. It couldn't possibly be that you;re wrong, no it must be everyone else!

    SegaMon said...

    "Is that really a controversial contention?"

    It only is a controversial contention if you base your entire opinion upon these two sole sources. I am not suggesting (and have never suggested) that the stories that Christina has re-posted from Operation Rescue are 100% true. They may or may not be true. However, I cannot know this for sure. I also cannot know for sure if any other sources are being completely honest. Abortion is such a "hot button" issue that many people (including courts, juries, review boards, etc) can decide on an issue to satisfy a certain crowd.

    What IS certain is that the majority of the late term abortions that Tiller has done have not been medical necessary.

    "The default assumption is that they were impartial."

    That means that I should default that my own opinions are impartial and that your opinions are impartial. Fact of the matter is that the majority of opinions have some slant upon them whether they be political, religious, cultural, or otherwise. The default, then, should be that everyone is NOT impartial.

    Thanks for your perspective, though, Tlaloc.

    Tlaloc said...

    "It only is a controversial contention if you base your entire opinion upon these two sole sources."

    I think calling them "two sources" severely understates the issue. These are just two random people anonymously posting things on the internet. It's two groups of people charged with discovering the truth and operating under significant controls to maintain impartiality and ethical behavior.


    "What IS certain is that the majority of the late term abortions that Tiller has done have not been medical necessary."

    Says who?


    "That means that I should default that my own opinions are impartial and that your opinions are impartial. Fact of the matter is that the majority of opinions have some slant upon them whether they be political, religious, cultural, or otherwise. The default, then, should be that everyone is NOT impartial."

    Again- not talking about a single individual. We're talking about a highly controlled group that has significant place guards to prevent against individual bias swaying the results. Is it impossible? Of course not. Is it vastly superior to all of the "evidence" against Tiller? Yeah.

    Tlaloc said...

    sorry that should be "these aren't just two random people anonymously posting things on the internet."

    SegaMon said...

    I accept your apology. :)

    You know, you and I are "just two random people anonymously posting things on the internet." lol!