Saturday, September 13, 2008

One year ago today: The call that no parent wants to get

One year ago today.

It was 7pm, we had just finished dinner and settled down to watch the evening news. My husband's cell phone rang with Laura's name on the ID. We always loved hearing from her. Laura was so full of life, your spirits were lifted just by talking to her. Except this time it wasn't her voice. There was guttural screaming and sobbing on the other end by a voice I did not immediately recognize. I heard the words "Laura", "Hospital" and the worst one, "Not Breathing," and then "abortion". My brain tilted, my heart sank, and life as I knew it ceased. It was Laura's friend Karen on the phone. She told me what happened, that Laura was having an abortion and something went terribly wrong. Karen was at the ER and the Doctor needed to talk to me. What Karen didn't know was that Laura had arrived at the ER already deceased. The EMT's found her this way at the abortion mill. The hospital was looking for next of kin to give the news to first, and Karen wasn't kin. "Laura's gone" the doctor told me. I wanted to hear "50-50 chance"...I would even accept "90-10 chance." But the word "chance" was not in the doctor's statement. All hope was gone, along with my daughter.

That call came on September 13, 2007 to Eileen and Tom Smith. Laura had died on a Hyannis, Massachusetts abortion table.

The bewildered couple hadn't even known that their daughter was pregnant.

Karen and Laura had arrived at Women Health Center in the morning for preparatory steps to abort Laura's 13-week baby. The two young women were to return in the afternoon for the actual procedure. Laura wasn't supposed to drive, so Karen drove and the two ran errands. Because Laura wasn't supposed to eat, Karen fasted with her friend.

They returned to the facility at about 4 in the afternoon and waited. Laura was called in at about 5, back to where Dr. Rapin Osathanondh (O-SATH-an-on) and his instruments waited for her. Karen stepped out briefly, expecting her friend to be out of surgery in about fifteen minutes. Abortion was, after all, safe and legal. What could go wrong? But Laura didn't emerge from the bowels of the clinic. A worried Karen grew increasingly distressed.

"And then all of a sudden [an assistant] comes out and says she's not breathing. And I was like, what do you mean she's not breathing," Karen told the Cape Cod Times.

Fire department rescuers were dispatched to the clinic at 5:49 p.m., and found an unresponsive patient. They initiated CPR and took her to the hospital. Karen followed, but was not permitted to see her friend. She asked about Laura's condition. "It doesn't look good," she was told. Because next of kin hadn't been notified yet, the doctor couldn't tell Karen the truth: Laura was already dead on arrival. It was 6:22 p.m.

I met with the doctor who aborted my grandchild, and who saw my daughter take her last breath. He would only meet me in a public place, without my husband. We talked for an hour and a half. Based on that meeting I believe I know what happened to Laura. He denies doing anything that caused her death. When we were done talking about Laura, I prayed, and asked God if there was anything He would have me say to the doctor. This is what I said next.... "The blood of my daughter is on your hands; the blood of my grandchild is on your hands; the blood of every life you have ever taken is on your hands," and I went on from there. He was silent with his head hung low. When I was ready to leave, I asked him if he would think about my daughter, and consider not doing any more abortions—he said he would think about it. When I left there I was praying, and said to God, "Can You stop this man from doing abortions? Is this what You have in mind, that he might even stop doing them?" I was thinking too small. I thought if one girl changed her mind [about having an abortion], I could find some comfort. I then realized that the Lord had much bigger plans. I have never experienced in my life, such tragedy, nor such grace.

Eileen pulled out all the stops to find out what had gone wrong. "My daughter was 22, healthy, and alive when she walked into that clinic," OR quotes Eileen Smith. "She didn't even have a cold. There is no reason for her to be dead." Eileen found out that a Sheriff's Deputy from another county provided Osathanondh and his staff with CPR training after Laura's death, then backdated the session to a date prior to Laura's death, with the full knowledge that someone had recently died at the facility. Osathanondh and his staff had been not been certified in CPR at the time of Laura's fatal abortion. And none of his staff was qualified to assist with general anesthesia. The assistant in the room with him when Laura stopped breathing was not a anesthesiologist, a nurse, or even a trained medical assistant. She was the receptionist.

Eileen has filed a complaint in Bristol County against the deputy. Laura's family have also filed a lawsuit against Osathanondh in order to bring to light the truth about Laura's death.

It's particularly sad to me that Laura resorted to abortion despite being a Christian active in her local church. Her mother also reported that Laura was strongly opposed to abortion. Which goes to show that anybody can panic, and our churches need to be teaching young women how to get past the panic that too often leads to the abortion table.

OR reports that over 600 people attended Laura's funeral, and at least one young woman decided to reject abortion after learning of Laura's needless death. National Catholic Register reports that the young woman was being pressured by her parents to abort, and was about to capitulate when she learned of Laura's fate.

Meanwhile, Eileen Smith has become an activist, speaking at churches, getting the message out that merely being quietly and privately prolife isn't enough to protect families from the tragedy of abortion.

I know that God is going to bring good out of my daughter's death. What a horrible thing; for my daughter to be associated with abortion. But, if God's going to use it for good and for His glory, then so be it. We're going very public with a very shameful, private thing because I believe God wants to use it to save lives. I believe the truth will come out, and the light of God will shine on this. Laura's death has had tremendous impact around the country, and even into Canada, without the local news mentioning it. It just came out in the secular media this week -- 5 weeks after Laura's death. I now believe it is my calling to keep telling Laura's story to the Church, and the world. I naively believed that abortion was not a choice for a Christian girl. A Pastor had even apologized to me and the Lord, for not speaking about this from his pulpit. We both had false assumptions. This is a problem in the Church, and one that needs to be spoken about from the pulpits. We have to take the "A" word out of the closet, put it out in the open, and discuss it. And maybe, possibly, hopefully, we'll even become active against it. Please keep our family in your prayers, and please tell someone Laura's story.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Indymom8753 said...

I am so moved by your story. A while ago I had come to terms that abortion was wrong because we didn't KNOW when life began, and we should err on the side of life. But, because I cherish ALL human life, I did not necessarily think we should take a hard line appoach to the law, and rip our country apart sending women to back-street abortions again. I always supported law to restrict abortion use, parent signature, etc, but to ban it completely scared me with the very likely consequences to this nation.

Also, I never felt confident that we would make progress by taking that strong position. But, I am starting to see that this stance was taking for granted that there were little complications now-a-days. I know there are always complications in any procedure, but I had no idea that some were so severe.

Yesterday, on the Sean Hannity show, I was blown away that someone, some baby, had survived an abortion. She was left with cerebal paulsey, probably as a direct result of what she sufferred in the womb. Then, as more and more research showed, that MANY babies survive abortion. I am horrified and had no idea! Then, today I stumbled across your story, and I am very strongly starting to rethink my middle-ground attitude towards abortion.

Thank you for sharing your story and I am so sorry for all that you've suffered. I do not believe that God intended or willed you to go through this, but by His grace, He can support you and help you find the comfort and create good from this tragedy.

I hope my thoughts have encouraged you to keep speaking! You are making a difference.


Christina Dunigan said...


I will pass your kind words along to Tom and Eileen Smith.

I think both sides tend to be a bit over-simplistic, with prolifers assuming that re-criminalizing abortion will make it mostly go away, and prochoicers assuming that making it legal made the problems go away.

Even with restored laws against abortion, we will sill need efforts to reach out to at-risk women. Though legalization increased pressures, even before legalization women were having unwanted abortions they were being pressured or forced into. It just wasn't as big a problem.

So! Lots of work to do! Eternal vigilance and all that.

Tonal Bliss said...

Very well said GrannyGump.

It is always good to spread the truth, especially in regards to abortion.

We need to always be vigilant and help women who are faced with abortion. We need to do so with love, support, caring, donating our time, and anything else possible.

The abortion problem certainly doesn't magically disappear if we can make it illegal.