Friday, December 07, 2007

Blame where blame is due

Operation Rescue and many of its visitors have their panties in a twist because of Kim, the staffer who called 911 when Laura Smith stopped breathing during her abortion.

The title of the post, "911 Call Reveals Cold-Hearted Attitude Toward MA Woman’s Abortion Death", is itself needlessly judgmental. Then OR says:

Audio files and transcripts obtained by Operation Rescue of a 911 call and subsequent communications between emergency responders reveals a cold-hearted dispassion concerning the death of a Massachusetts woman during an abortion in September.

Records show that a woman named Kim, who was an employee of “Women’s Health Center,” an abortion office owned and operated by Rapin Osathanondh, made a 911 call to the Hyannis Fire Department on September 13 requesting medical assistance for a woman who had aspirated and was not breathing. ....

“I’ve heard people order pizza with more emotion than that clinic worker had when calling help for Laura,” said Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger.

The folks leaving comments are even worse:

I would think if someone was lying dead in the next room, I might reflect a little more anxiety in my voice than this woman, Kim. It almost sounded like she was bored with the question when he asked her phone number.


Since Kim works for an abortionist, she sees death on a daily basis…no big deal to her. Anyone who works for an abortionist has to be very cold.


Just another example of “business as usual” at an abortion clinic.
The lack of emotion/concern in Kims voice is most likely due to training she received that stresses NO URGENCY when summoning help for a “botch victim”. After all, we don’t want any attention being drawn to a clinic where they don’t have the resources or the staff to handle an emergency.

We can have no idea what was going on in Kim's heart or head. Maybe she was indeed cold and callous. But there are three other far more likely explanations for her "improper" emotion during the 911 call:

1. Kim was being as professional as she knew how to be. Medical personnel and people who work in medical settings are (at least supposed to be) trained on how to handle emergencies, and one thing they train you to do is to stay calm and cool and very task-oriented. (Stephen King said that when he was being loaded up after the van hit him, he'd asked the medic, "Am I going to die?" The medic had blandly reassured him, "Not today." King said the medic later told him that he didn't expect King to survive the ride to the hospital.) The idea is that you just do Step A, then Step B, then step C, very placidly and methodically, and you can always go home and come unglued later. The last thing you want in an emergency is hysterical, highly emotional staff. You want them as brusque and matter-of-fact as nuns supervising a canned food drive.

2. She could have been so shocked and stunned that she shut down emotionally. Sort of "This can't be happening. We can't be having a patient die! It's all gonna be okay!" Some people respond to a horrible, shocking thing with denial and disbelief as a coping mechanism. Kim could well be one of them.

3. Whoever it was that had told her to call 911 had lied to her, reassuring her that Laura could be easily resuscitated, that the ambulance was just a precautionary measure, that everything was going to be just fine. Back when Gwen Yarbour died at Lovejoy Surgicenter, the prolifers who routinely picketted the place knew about the death before the staff did. One of the prolifers had followed the ambulance to the hospital and stayed to find out if the woman was okay or not. The staff, on the other hand, had been sent home before the ambulance was called, and the next day they were told by the supervisors that Gwen had fully recovered and had gone home. They wouldn't believe the prolifers when they were first told no, Gwen had died. Kim might have made the understandable mistake of trusting her supervisor or the doctor, who she figured had more knowledge than she did.

This said, I can fault somebody -- perhaps Kim, perhaps the people who trained her -- for not giving the proper set of information when calling 911. The dispatcher should have been given the patient's age, whether or not the patient still had a pulse, and what interventions if any were being given. Was the patient intubated? Being bagged with O2? Being given CPR? But, that said, the information was evidently quite enough to dispatch proper help, as OR notes:

“In contrast, it appears that the emergency workers did all they could for Laura. The amount of units that responded, and the call to the Captain indicated that they took the situation very seriously.”

We can not know what went on in Kim's heart or head unless we ask her. And even then, we can't fully know. Only Kim and God know that. Let's stick to judging the behaviors, which is right and appropriate, and leave it to God to judge whether Kim's emotions at the time were "appropriate".

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