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.

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