Monday, June 08, 2009

A stark contrast

Yesterday I was watching a marathon of "Untold Stories from the E.R." with my mom. These are true tales, reenacted and with commentary from doctors, nurses, and family members.

One memorable case was the 7-months pregnant woman brought in by her husband. She was in horrible pain. The doctor suspected an aortic tear -- a fear that was confirmed. The woman was in danger of bleeding to death unless they transferred her immediately to a hospital equipped to do the surgery she needed.

Through the whole thing, the woman was pleading, "No matter what, SAVE MY BABY!"

She wasn't indifferent to whether she herself lived or died; she just wanted to make it abundantly clear that the baby was to be the first priority, and that her own life was to be the secondary concern. Promising to do everything he could to save her baby, the E.R. doctor rode along in the ambulance -- just in case the woman died and the only hope for the baby was a post-mortem c-section.

Watching this reenactment, hearing the commentary of the doctors involved, I couldn't help but be struck by the contrast between this drama and the drama that played out weekly at George Tiller's late term abortion mill -- where the very first step Dr. Tiller took was a lethal injection to make absolutely sure that no matter what, the baby wouldn't survive. Where the mothers' greatest fear wasn't that their babies would die, but that their babies might live.

The woman featured in "Untold Stories" survived and even thrived, as did her baby. A happy ending that left many of the doctors involved misty-eyed as they spoke about it.

You have to wonder what happened to the portion of American people who have gotten to the point where those doctors would have seemed just as noble -- perhaps even more so -- had they been striving to make sure that the baby didn't survive. And had they stuck the woman in a motel room with her mom because it's cheaper that way.

17 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"You have to wonder what happened to the portion of American people who have gotten to the point where those doctors would have seemed just as noble -- perhaps even more so -- had they been striving to make sure that the baby didn't survive."

It's pretty simple- both doctors are trying to serve their patient's interests. The return question is what happened to the portion of America that want their views enforced upon other by doctors.

GrannyGrump said...

First of all, Tlaloc, the doctor had TWO patients. But since that's a bit too much for you to wrap your head around, let me rephrase it. I have to wonder what happened to the portion of the American people who'd think that the mother who wanted her child killed, no matter what, was making just as valid and noble a choice as the mother who wanted her child saved, no matter what."

The point is that we've gotten to the point where it's "Live baby, dead baby. Whatever. As long as the mother is satisfied with the outcome." Which YOU may think is something to celebrate but I find profoundly disturbing.

Tlaloc said...

"First of all, Tlaloc, the doctor had TWO patients."

I don't see where that really matters.


"I have to wonder what happened to the portion of the American people who'd think that the mother who wanted her child killed, no matter what, was making just as valid and noble a choice as the mother who wanted her child saved, no matter what.""

Well the vast majority of pro-choicers don;t believe any child is getting killed, so your question is a non-starter. You are questioning why people who don;t share your view don't share your view. Well its kind of obvious really, as soon as you drop the pretense that your view is automatic or universal.


"The point is that we've gotten to the point where it's "Live baby, dead baby. Whatever. As long as the mother is satisfied with the outcome.""

Live baby vs. dead tissue and yes I'm absolutely fine with that, so long as the woman is satisfied. It is her reproductive system after all.


"Which YOU may think is something to celebrate but I find profoundly disturbing."

Again its only disturbing because you insist on ascribing motives that do not exist. Frankly that is kind of disturbing. It strongly suggests you learned nothing from the Tiller murder and will continue to do the exact same things that helped bring it about. Rather than recognize legitimate differences of opinion you are going to continue demonizing caricatures.

Kathy said...

But, Tlaloc, the abortions under discussion here are post-viability abortions -- this just isn't "tissue" but is a baby, based on your own criteria!

Tlaloc said...

"But, Tlaloc, the abortions under discussion here are post-viability abortions"

I think we're dsicussing the large issue of abortion, not the vanishingly tiny fraction that involve post-viability. Those cases are heartbreakers, no doubt. But that doesn't negate the fact that sometimes they are medically necessary. And it doesn;t make those doctors willing to do the hard work of providing them any less of a boon for their patients.

It's like proctology- it may not exactly be glamorous but its a damn good thing some doctors are willing to do it or we'd be in much worse shape.

Kathy said...

Actually, Tiller specialized in late-term abortions, so as far as I'm concerned, that's what we're talking about. Yes, I disagree with abortion even at the earliest stages, but for the purposes of this discussion, I'm talking particularly of late-term abortions.

And, yes, sometimes it's medically necessary to end a pregnancy before term and after viability -- which is why hospitals do preterm inductions and C-sections and try to save both mother and baby. So, even though we're talking about a very small fraction of post-viability abortions, I think it's worth talking about, because it's still thousands of babies who could have lived who were given a lethal injection to ensure that they could not be born alive.

GrannyGrump said...

Yeah, Kathy, nobody's been able to fully explain the health benefits to the mother of an additional trans-abdominal injection so as to allow the baby to rot for three days prior to delivery. If the need is to END THE PREGNANCY, why take the extra step to kill the fetus, and why do that THREE DAYS BEFORE DELIVERY, giving the fetus a chance to get really nasty with decomposition before it's expelled into a freaking TOILET.

Tlaloc said...

"Actually, Tiller specialized in late-term abortions, so as far as I'm concerned, that's what we're talking about."

If you want to dictate the conditions of your own monologue, fell free. Assuming you wanted a conversation then the other people have some say in the terms under discussion.


"And, yes, sometimes it's medically necessary to end a pregnancy before term and after viability -- which is why hospitals do preterm inductions and C-sections and try to save both mother and baby. So, even though we're talking about a very small fraction of post-viability abortions, I think it's worth talking about, because it's still thousands of babies who could have lived who were given a lethal injection to ensure that they could not be born alive."

What do you want me to say? Late term abortion is legal under various circumstances. Tiller was repeatedly attacked for conducting them outside the law and was always cleared of any wrong doing.

You claim that there's no case or circumstance where late term abortion is appropriate or necessary. Doctors disagree.

I trust their opinion above yours. Go figure.

Tlaloc said...

"Yeah, Kathy, nobody's been able to fully explain the health benefits to the mother of an additional trans-abdominal injection so as to allow the baby to rot for three days prior to delivery. If the need is to END THE PREGNANCY, why take the extra step to kill the fetus, and why do that THREE DAYS BEFORE DELIVERY, giving the fetus a chance to get really nasty with decomposition before it's expelled into a freaking TOILET."

Yeah, nobody except for the doctors involved.

But who cares what they say?

GrannyGrump said...

Tiller was "cleared of wrongdoing" by his political allies. Which is up there with a defense attorney saying the client isn't guilty. Duh.

GrannyGrump said...

Tlaloc, if what Tiller did made so goddam much sense, how come nobody else would do it? How come of ALL the doctors in the US, Tiller was the only one to have the stroke of genius that the absolute best way to deal with third trimester pregnancy complications was to kill the fetus with a lethal injection then let it rot for three days while you keep the mother in a motel room attended by a layperson. EVERY OTHER DOCTOR would check the woman into a hospital and treat her there.

So Tiller, a PATHOLOGIST, was in every way FAR MORE QUALIFIED than all the obstetricians, even the high-risk ob/gyns, in the entire country?

Hm. Show me some medical journal articles where peer-reviewed studies showed that three days in a motel while your recently killed fetus rots in your uterus is the standard of care for ANY complication of late pregnancy.

Tlaloc said...

"Tiller was "cleared of wrongdoing" by his political allies. Which is up there with a defense attorney saying the client isn't guilty. Duh."

Bull. He was cleared by a Jury, a grand jury, and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. You know this, you just don't like what it implies.


"Tlaloc, if what Tiller did made so goddam much sense, how come nobody else would do it?"

Does the man laying in a pool of his own blood in his church RING A &^%$ING BELL?

God, how can you even ask that, Christina? Who wants to volunteer to have the prolife movement paint a target on their forehead?

You (collectively) hounded this man and his employees day after day with lies and intimidation and threats and violence (the little ones and the final big one) and then you can sit there and ask why others might shy away? Gee, I wonder...



"So Tiller, a PATHOLOGIST, was in every way FAR MORE QUALIFIED than all the obstetricians, even the high-risk ob/gyns, in the entire country?"

He was qualified enough that his fellow doctors found no wrong in his practice. He was qualified enough that a grand jury found no grounds on which to indict, despite indictments being vastly easier to get than convictions. He was qualified enough that a Jury brought back a verdict of not guilty on all charges.

You can try and argue all you want that you know better than these people collectively do, but there's no way I'll believe it. You don't have the qualifications of the review board. You don;t have the impartiality and access to evidence of a jury or grand jury.



"Hm. Show me some medical journal articles where peer-reviewed studies showed that three days in a motel while your recently killed fetus rots in your uterus is the standard of care for ANY complication of late pregnancy."

Why don't you show me where a doctor has been cited for following the same plan as Tiller?

Kathy said...

"Why don't you show me where a doctor has been cited for following the same plan as Tiller?"

Can you give an example of an OB following the same plan as Tiller? A doctor could hardly be cited for leaving a sick woman in a hotel instead of a hospital if he didn't do it.

"If you want to dictate the conditions of your own monologue, fell free. Assuming you wanted a conversation then the other people have some say in the terms under discussion."

Ok, as a percentage, how many pre-viability abortions did Tiller perform? While you characterize these abortions which killed babies even by your definition as being "vanishingly small", this is why women went to see Tiller -- he would kill their babies when no one else would. The average percentage of abortions done at or after 21 weeks is 1.4%; if Tiller's percentage is anywhere close to that, I'll agree that you have some right to say that this discussion can and should be about abortion in general. If, however, Tiller's percentage is greatly skewed from the norm, and these post-viability, late term abortions comprised a large percentage of the abortions he did, then I think we need to focus on his specialty. Fair enough?

Tlaloc said...

"Can you give an example of an OB following the same plan as Tiller?"

Nope. Again, I'm not a doctor. And I'm still happy to leave the matter to the doctors. You aren't, which is why (actually one of many reasons) I think the onus is squarely on you.


"Ok, as a percentage, how many pre-viability abortions did Tiller perform? While you characterize these abortions which killed babies even by your definition as being "vanishingly small", this is why women went to see Tiller -- he would kill their babies when no one else would. The average percentage of abortions done at or after 21 weeks is 1.4%;"

Personally I suspect the point at which we are talking about a baby and not a fetus is somewhere after 30 weeks. The AGI estimates the number of abortions done after week 24 is .08%, and we can assume that after week 30 is going to be significantly smaller yet. They further estimated that to be just over 1000 abortions per year in 1997 when total abortions done were about 10% higher than current. So if there were ~900 abortions performed last year in the whole US that were after week 24 I think it's pretty reasonable to say the number done by Tiller that were after week 30 (when i have some reservations about the procedure) are vanishingly small.

Kathy said...

"Why don't you show me where a doctor has been cited for following the same plan as Tiller?"

Because I don't think such an obstetrician exists. If you know of such a case -- whether or not the doctor has been cited -- feel free to enlighten me, but I see no reason for the onus to be on me to find the needle in a haystack you claim to be in there, when I don't think there is one.

In fact, I just talked to an L&D nurse I know about this question, since you and other people I've come into contact with are all so sure that there must be *some* medical reason to induce an abortion after viability (which is 24 weeks, not 30 weeks, btw; and babies as young as 21 weeks have survived being born preterm). She said, "I cannot think of ANY reason why a late term (post viability) abortion would be indicated. If the mother's life is at stake, which I have seen, then a c/section or induction of labor occurs. More often than not, it's a c/section where I work. They don't mess around when it comes to saving the life of a mother."

"So if there were ~900 abortions performed last year in the whole US that were after week 24 I think it's pretty reasonable to say the number done by Tiller that were after week 30 (when i have some reservations about the procedure) are vanishingly small."

Hmmm, well, there was only one abortionist murdered in the past year, so that's an even smaller number. Yet you're concerned about his murder and the fact that he was robbed of his life prematurely. But you think we shouldn't be concerned about the nearly 1000 post-viability abortions that take place around the country (of whom Tiller was 1 of 3 doctors who would perform them, if the newspaper reports are accurate; so even if he only did 1/3 of them, he still killed 300 viable babies per year -- babies who had at least a 50/50 chance of living if born in a facility equipped to take care of them, and a 90%+ chance of living if born at or after 30 weeks. If even 2/3 of these post-viability abortions were done prior to week 30, then that's still 100 babies (by your definition) he killed. That's two per week, assuming he took a 2-week vacation. Even if 7/8 of the post-viability abortions were prior to 30 weeks, that's still nearly 40 abortions per year, nearly one per week, that killed what you would call a baby. If it's only 1/10, that's still 30 dead babies Tiller killed every year. Yet you're concerned about the "vanishingly small" number of abortionists who were killed in the past year.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't condone Tiller's murder. But even by your definition, he killed more innocent people every year than most serial killers murder in their entire lifetimes.

Tlaloc said...

"Because I don't think such an obstetrician exists. If you know of such a case -- whether or not the doctor has been cited -- feel free to enlighten me, but I see no reason for the onus to be on me to find the needle in a haystack you claim to be in there, when I don't think there is one."

Because you claim that his way is wrong, and yet you can't point to even a single case of his way being condemned by any authority.



"In fact, I just talked to an L&D nurse I know about this question, since you and other people I've come into contact with are all so sure that there must be *some* medical reason to induce an abortion after viability (which is 24 weeks, not 30 weeks, btw; and babies as young as 21 weeks have survived being born preterm). She said, "I cannot think of ANY reason why a late term (post viability) abortion would be indicated."

One of the first things they teach you in logic is that "lack of evidence" is not "evidence of lack." Really, logic is not just an esoteric exercise, it helps you avoid these kinds of specious arguments.



"Hmmm, well, there was only one abortionist murdered in the past year, so that's an even smaller number."

True the number of murders is quite small. But the number of assaults, threats, bombings, arsons, and so on is actually fairly large.



"But you think we shouldn't be concerned about the nearly 1000 post-viability abortions that take place around the country"

I think if you want to talk about abortion then we should talk about abortion. If you want to pretend that post viability abortions are even a significant fraction of those then I know you aren't intellectually serious about the matter but are just trying to use emotion to blind people to fact.



"Don't get me wrong -- I don't condone Tiller's murder."

Pardon me if I find that protestation a tad hollow.



"he killed more innocent people every year than most serial killers murder in their entire lifetimes."

Serial killers aren't killing to save someone else. You like to say Tiller wasn't either. But you failed to ever prove that even once. Think about that. We're estimating hundreds of post viability abortions a year for decades and you and your gang never once managed to find any compelling evidence of wrong doing.

Not once.

So either you guys completely suck at this or the guy was scrupulously clean. Take your pick.

Kathy said...

"Serial killers aren't killing to save someone else. You like to say Tiller wasn't either. But you failed to ever prove that even once."

Here is a website I already posted on another comment which refutes the above statement. The overwhelming majority of post-viability abortions during these years listed were NOT done to save the life of the mother. Most were done to preserve the "health" of the mother, which was vaguely and broadly defined to include "financial health" and "mental health" such as "I just don't want a baby now."

You asked for one case -- this is 395 post-viability abortions done in the year 2001 alone that were NOT done to save the life of the mother.