Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Law & Order" does balanced show on late abortion

Thanks for the link go to Jill Stanek.

It seems the writers went a bit overboard to make sure to fit in stereotypical and atypical people on both sides, reasonable people on both sides, fanatics on both sides, and the arguments of both sides. But with just one hour, he/she needed to cram it in a bit.

The only fault I can find is the characterization of the abortions as being typically done on babies with horrendous congenital conditions, since this is atypical even of late abortions, but I do appreciate that these children were shown as still having dignity and lives worth living.

So I'd have to rate it high.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another example of "Figures lie, and liars figure"

The Bogus Death Statistic That Won't Die:

Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida has found his calling: death demagogue. First, he accused Republicans of wanting sick patients to "die quickly." Next, he likened health insurance problems to a "holocaust in America." Now, he's unveiled a new website entitled "" in memory of the "more than 44,000 Americans [who] die simply because they have no health insurance."

Just one problem: The statistic is a phantom number. Grayson's memorial, like the Democrats' government health care takeover plan itself, is full of vapor. It comes from a study published this year in the American Journal of Public Health. But the science is infused with left-wing politics.


How did these political doctors come up with the 44,000 figure? They used data from a health survey conducted between 1988 and 1994. The questionnaires asked a sample of 9,000 participants whether they were insured and how they rated their own health. The federal Centers for Disease Control tracked the deaths of people in the sample group through the year 2000. Himmelstein, Woolhandler and company then crunched the numbers and attributed deaths to lack of health insurance for all the participants who initially self-reported that they had no insurance and then died for any reason over the 12-year tracking period.

This is the sort of data massage the CDC uses to inflate "childbirth" deaths -- they count any death of a woman who was pregnant or recently pregnant as a "childbirth" death, even if she just happened to be on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center on 9/11 on her first day back from maternity leave.

It works for the abortion lobby. Why not for the scaremongers trying to take away all our choices in health care?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

1922: Chicago abortion death

On October 25, 1922, 24-year-old Lillian Hulbert died at Chicago's St. Anne's Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed on her there that day.

The coroner identified a Mrs. M.C. Anderson as responsible for Lillian's death.

Anderson's profession is given as nurse or midwife.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Wow! Law & Order presents some reality of late abortion

Keep in mind, the sort of thing the fictitious nurse describes happens hundreds of times a year in the US -- the main difference being that the babies in real life typically could have lived long, normal lives if carried to term (or even, in many cases, if brought to the NICU at the time of birth instead of being disposed of as medical waste).

For more on the real-life scenarios, see:

  • Obama Comments, I Respond
  • Planned Parenthood Admits to Live Births
  • A Fetus With Attitude
  • A Question About Born-Alive Babies and Criminal Charges
  • Obama, McCain, and "Health"
  • Third Trimester Abortions and the Law
  • Funeral Scheduled for Baby Shanice, Thrown on a Roof to Die
  • Just Why are Abortions Being Done so Late in the Pregnancy That the Babies Can Be Born Alive
  • More Born-Alive Babies
  • Jill Stanek and FactCheck's Faulty "Facts"
  • Saturday, October 24, 2009

    "Mermaid Girl" Shiloh Pepin dies at age 10

    Shiloh Pepin, one of a handful of known sirenomelia survivors, has died. She was 10 years old.

    Sirenomelia is a rare birth defect that causes the legs to be fused. Babies with siernomelia are typically not born without normal pelvic area features such as urethra and anus, and as such typically die shortly after birth. Surgeons can now sometimes correct the abnormalities that are incompatible with life.

    Shiloh wasn't a candidate for leg separation surgery because of issues with how her blood vessels were formed. She used a wheelchair to attend school and dreamed of becoming a jeweler.

    ABC News once arranged for Shiloh to meet with another sirenomelia survivor, Tiffany Yorks of Florida. You can read about it here.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    1981: One of three deaths for NAF hero

    Nineteen-year-old Diane Boyd lived in a state institution for the mentally disabled. There, she was beaten and raped in July of 1981, and was later discovered to be pregnant. A safe, legal abortion was arranged for Diane at National Abortion Federation member Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis, and Diane's mother signed a consent form. The abortion was performed October 22, 1981. Diane died the next day.

    According to suits later filed by Diane's mother, RHS staff and abortionist Robert Crist did not check for possible drug interactions before giving Diane valium and sublimaze. These drugs evidently reacted with Diane's usual medication, thorazine, causing her to stop breathing. Diane's mother said that the clinic lacked heart monitoring equipment or resuscitation equipment.

    Diane was not the last woman to die after abortion by Crist. Seventeen-year-old Latatchie Veal bled to death after an abortion by Crist in 1991. Twenty-two-year-old Nichole Williams died of DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulopathy) after an abortion by Crist in 1997.

    As for RHS, they'd performed an abortion on fourteen-year-old Sandra Kaiser in 1984 without her mother's knowledge or consent. Sandra's already fragile mental health deteriorated further, and she committed suicide shortly thereafter by throwing herself into traffic.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    Doctor fingered in 1936 abortion death

    On October 16, 1936, 26-year-old Katherine DiDonato, mother of two, was admitted to Roosevelt Hospital to be treated for complications of a criminal abortion.

    Katherine's husband reported that the abortion had taken place three days earlier.

    Detectives were told that Katherine had bought pills from drug clerk Hyman Kantor, who had then recommended Dr. Aloysius Mulholland to perform an abortion.

    Katherine died at 2 AM on October 23. Both Mulholland and Kantor were arrested and charged with homicide.

    Katherine's abortion was typical of pre-Roe abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

    An abortion death from the early 20th Century

    Emma Bickel, a 59-year-old midwife, was charged with second-degree manslaugher in the death of 19-year-old Emily Nohavec of St. Louis. Bickel had been a midwife for 28 years, and had a reputation for "uprightness" and honesty.

    Emily, who was single, had been living with her sister in St. Louis, and she worked as a clerk in her sister‘s vegetable store. On October 18, 1913, she first reported feeling ill. On Monday, October 20, a Dr. Reber was summoned to see her. He diagnosed her with septic peritonitis. The next day, her condition was critical and she was admitted to Rebekah Hospital. There, Dr. Garcia was called in for consultation. Drs. Reber and Garcia agreed that an immediate laparotomy was needed to try to save Emily‘s life.

    The doctors found Emily‘s abdominal cavity inflamed. A cyst about the size of a pear surrounded her left ovary, her right ovary was surrounded by pus, and there was pus in her fallopian tubes. The doctors removed these purulent organs and inserted drainage tubes.

    Dr. Reber also curetted Emily‘s uterus and packed it with iodoform gauze. Emily‘s uterus noted an ulceration about the size of a hazelnut inside the cervix. The edges of this ulceration were ragged and torn, and Reber concluded that this was caused by instrumentation. Reber also believed that swelling near where the fallopian tube entered the uterus was caused by instrumentation. Reber believed that an abortion had been performed a week to ten days before he was first called to examine Emily.

    Dr. Garcia, on the other hand, agreed that Emily had recently been pregnant, and that the pregnancy had ended at about two months, but noted &quo;there were no direct punctures or cuts, scratches, or anything of that kind in the uterus, or in the abdomen.&quo; He agreed with Dr. Reber that the sepsis was caused by an abortion, but he disagreed about the abortion having been induced. Dr. Garcia concluded that Emily might merely have miscarried.

    Despite the efforts of both doctors, Emily died the following day, October 23.

    That same day, Dr. Hockdoerfer performed an autopsy. He made the same findings as Drs. Garcia and Reber, except that he also found a section of placental implantation about the size of a quarter. He agreed that retained placental tissue had caused the sepsis, but did not find any signs of damage from instruments. Emily had been in good health prior to her final, fatal illness.

    While Emily was hospitalized, police officer William H. Coates arrested Emma Bickel and brought her to Emily‘s bedside. Coates testified that he asked Bickel if she knew the girl, and Bickel said yes, she did know her. Coates testified that he then said, "You performed an abortion on her, didn‘t you?" To which, he testified, Bickel replied, "Yes." Coates took Bickel to the police station where she made a statement. Coates wrote out the statement as follows:

    Department of Police, City of St. Louis.
    7:16 P. M., Oct. 22, 1913.
    To whom it may concern I herein state that on or about October 13th, 1913, Emily Nohavec came to my house in the evening and said she was in trouble and wanted me to help her out. I told her it was dangerous for to do a thing like that, and she said, ‘You need not be afraid,‘ that ‘I won't tell on you.‘ I then inserted a catheter into the private parts and opened her womb. She then paid me about five or seven dollars; I don‘t remember which. She came back in two days, and I again put the catheter into the womb. She left, and I never saw her until I saw her this evening at the hospital.
    The above statement was made of my own free will, and not by any threats or promises or violence to me.
    [Signed] Emma Bickel.
    Witnesses: Off. W. H. Coates; Off. David J. O‘Connor.

    When called upon to testify in court, however, Bickel denied having performed an abortion on Emily. She said that she never knew Emily until the girl came to her house, saying that she was &quo;in trouble." Bickel said that she asked Emily, "How far along?" To which Emily replied that her period was two weeks late. Bickel said that Emily told her that she was married, and that she had taken some medicine to cause an abortion, and had also taken a box of pills. Bickel said that she told Emily, "Well, if you are only two weeks gone they ought to bring you by your next monthlies." Bickel said that she then sent Emily away.

    Bickel said that about two weeks later Emily, who had still not given her name, returned, saying that she was ill, and willing to pay $7 for an examination. Bickel said that she used a speculum to examine Emily, and found her cervix open and exuding a foul discharge. Bickel testified that she told Emily to consult a doctor. She said that this took place about two weeks prior to Emily‘s death, and that she‘d not seen the girl between the examination and being brought to the hospital by Officer Coates.

    Bickel testified that she had confirmed that she knew Emily, and that the girl had come to her house, but that Coates did not ask her at the hospital if she had performed an abortion. She said that she was taken to the police station, that Coates had written out the statement and told her to sign it, so she‘d complied.

    Bickel said that she‘d never told Coates that she‘d inserted a catheter, that she‘d tried to discourage abortion, telling Emily "that it was a dangerous thing to do a thing like that." She said that she‘d only signed the statement because she was excited and confused and was merely doing what she was told.

    Despite her protestations of innocence, Bickel was convicted. She was sentenced to three years in prison. She unsuccessfully appealed her conviction.

    Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more information about early 20th Century abortion mortality, see Abortion Deaths 1910-1919.

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Great collection of BO Nobel cartoons

    Dr. Roy's Thoughts

    I particularly like the first and third the most.

    They're from this collection", which just gathered them without evidently taking sides. But the consensus seems to be that the Nobel Peace Prize now means about as much as the prize you get in a box of Cracker Jack.

    2000: Fatal abortion in Dayton

    L’Echelle Head, age 21, died October 11, 2000, after an abortion at Dayton Women's Health Services. Dayton Right to Life said that L'Echelle was pronounced dead at Samaritan Hospital after she'd been sent home from the clinic.

    Police had been called to a private residence to investigate the report of an unresponisve 21-year-old woman shortly after 6 p.m.

    L'Echelle's obituary indicates that she left behind a daughter, her parents, and three sisters.

    Peggy Lehner of Dayton Right to Life said, "The final results of the autopsy are still pending. From early indications it appeas she suffered some sort of blood clot or embolism."

    Dayton Women's Health Services had been caught operating without a license in 1999. It was inspected on October 27, 1999, to see if a license should be granted. Inspectors found rusty instruments, improperly-marked medications, and a failure to follow sterile technique. The clinic administrators were told they'd have to correct the problems to get a license.

    The clinic got the license after getting a waiver regarding follow-up care for patients.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    1981: Fatal abortion for teen

    Life Dynamics lists 17-year-old Sharonda Rowe on their "Blackmun Wall" of women killed by safe and legal abortions. According to LDI, Sharonda had an abortion done in a doctor's office in Washington, DC on October 11, 1981. She suffered lacerations in her vagina and uterus, causing a massive, fatal air embolism (air in her bloodstream).

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    1926: Another doctor's fatal work in Chicago

    On October 11, 1926, Jeanette Jarrett, a 28-year-old woman, died from complications of a criminal abortion performed on her that day at a Chicago location. A Black, Roy Shell, was held by the coroner on October 29. On November 1, he was indicted for felony murder.

    Jeanette's abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a doctor.

    Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

    For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    NYT Miracle!

    Behind the Scenes: Picturing Fetal Remains

    The photographs are graphic and detailed, showing the fingers or toes of aborted fetuses whose entire frames are no bigger than a cellphone. Since the mid-1990s, they have appeared all over the country — carried as posters by protesters, handed out with pamphlets or, in some cases, mounted like billboards on the sides of trucks.

    Like many others, I often wondered about the source of these images. Who took the pictures? Where did the fetuses come from?

    I had a chance to find some answers while reporting in late September on the death of James Pouillon, the anti-abortion protester who was shot and killed in Owosso, Mich.

    Mr. Pouillon was holding an anti-abortion sign at the time, with a baby on one side and an abortion on the other. At his memorial service, I met Monica Migliorino Miller, who told me she had a lot to share about the use of abortion imagery.

    Of course, the comments start right in with screeds about how wonderful it is to pull babies apart with forceps because it makes their mommies' lives so much better. Why aren't these same people pleading for us to just nuke Darfur and put everybody there out of their misery, if wretched death is such a great solution to problems?

    NAF abortion leads to fatal coma for mom

    October 10, 1989, 27-year-old Catherine Pierce died in a nursing home in Tennessee from abortion complications that had left her comatose since March 11. She left an 11-year-old daughter motherless. The abortion was performed at Atlanta Surgi-Center, which had at one time also done business as "Northside Women's Clinic," and was performed by Daniel McBrayer.

    Catherine had gone into cardiac arrest while left unattended in recovery after her abortion. State officials alleged "serious problems" after Peirce was injured. They cited this National Abortion Federation facility for administering "the same anesthesia dosages" to patients whose weights ranges from 107 to 167 pounds, inadequate record keeping, and inadequate supervision of patients.

    State investigators indicated that they'd been turned away the first time they'd tried to inspect the facility, and were forced to stage a raid in order to obtain the records needed to investigate the mishap that later killed Catherine. The clinic complained that they'd only turned the state investigators away because they'd failed to display badges and a subpoena. They also complained to the press that the raid was "political harassment" due to the fact that an anti-abortion activist had complained to the state about the facility.

    Among the patient care problems cited, the investigators also said that they found discrepancies between the number of fetuses sent to the disposal lab and the number of abortions performed. In 1989 Atlanta Surgi-Center had logged 1,748 abortions, but had only sent 155 fetuses for disposal. In 1988 they had logged 2,774 abortions, but only sent 155 fetuses for disposal. In 1987 they logged 1,104 abortoins but only sent 306 fetuses for disposal. The investigation into fetus disposal was prompted by local prolifers reporting that they had seen hundreds of fetuses in the clinic's dumpsters. Dr. Gay, the clinic director, denied the allegations.

    It is possible that Atlanta Surgi-Center is the same facility as the "Atlanta Northside" facility where Geneva Calton had undergone her fatal abortion in 1979.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    Thanks for nothing, New York legislature

    Twenty-three-year-old Maria Hernandez Ortega, a citizen of Guatemala, had been living in the United States with her husband, Luis, for eight months in October of 1970. They'd lived in Queens until mid-August, when they had relocated to Boston.

    Maria and Luis traveled back to New York and stayed with a friend so that Maria could take advantage of New York's new law legalizing abortion on demand.

    The abortion, a suction curettage, was performed by Dr. Armida Zepeda in her New York office at about 5 p.m. on October 10. 

    Zepeda had estimated the pregnancy to be two months. After trying for about 20 minutes, she was unable to extract the fetus. She concluded that Maria had not been pregnant after all, and sent her home. Maria and Luis returned to the friend's apartment.

    At 10:00 that night, Maria died in her friend's home. It turned out that she had actually been at least four months pregnant, not two months. Zepeda had pushed the fetus through the uterine wall into Maria's abdominal cavity. Maria had bled to death.

    Maria's death was the tenth known abortion death in New York City since abortion had been legalized on July 1. City officials attributed four of those deaths to criminal abortions, but news coverage did not elaborate on how they distinguished between legal and illegal abortions. Public health officials reviewing the situation decided to forbid any more abortions to be performed in doctors' offices, though they could still be performed in outpatient clinics.


    Thanks for nothing, New York legislature

    Twenty-three-year-old Maria Hernandez Ortega traveled from her home in Massahusetts for a safe and legal abortion by Dr. Armida Zepeta in her New York office on October 10, 1970.

    Zeptea estimated the pregnancy to be two months. She attempted an abortion, but was unable to extract the fetus. She concluded that Maria had not been pregnant after all, and sent her home.

    At 10:00 that night, Maria died in her home. It turned out that she had actually been four months pregnant, not two months. Zepeta had pushed the fetus through the uterine wall into Maria's abdominal cavity.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    "Murdered by human wolves"

    The Seminole County News in Oklahoma reported that Katherine Cross died October 10, 1917, from a "criminal operation" performed by Dr. A. H. Yates and his assistant, a schoolteacher named Frederick O‘Neal. Katherine, who had been born in August of 1899, was 18 years old.

    I learned about Katherine‘s sad end while looking for memorials for the unborn at Find-a-Grave. Evidently Colby Weaver, who is interested in old headstones, was intrigued by the inscription on Katherine‘s headstone: "Murdered by Human Wolves." He gathered the following information.

    Katherine was the second victim Yates was charged with murdering by abortion in as many months. Elise Stone had died in August.

    How common was it for a woman, back before legalization, to find a doctor to do her abortion?
    It was very common -- probably more than 90% of the time.
    It was about as common as finding any other kind of abortionist -- about 50%.
    It was fairly uncommon -- about 10%.
    It was very rare -- less than 2%.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    Atheists hope to dishonor veterans

    High Court Takes Up Case of Cross on Public Land

    Kowtowing to every whining atheist, as the government has become all too prone to do, is government establishment of a religion -- atheism.

    The atheists need to just get a grip, shut up, and accept the fact that not everybody is godless.

    Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses just pester you one on one, and you can develop relationships with them even if you disagree. But disagree with an atheist and he wants all evidence of your existence to be blotted out.

    I'm very quickly losing my live-and-let-live attitude toward atheists. Their insistence on pushing their own godlessness down everybody else's throat is an assault on every believer of every faith.

    And I suggest that they haul their sorry asses to South Korea and see what REAL religious tolerance looks like. There are an abundance of Buddhist temples in National Parks, and nobody gets their knickers in a twist about it. Nobody gets their knickers in a twist about the seas of crosses atop churches. Nobody gets their knickers in a twist over both Christmas and Buddha's Birthday being official holidays. The Christians, the Buddhists, and the minority practitioners of other faiths truly respect each other.

    Atheists respect nobody.

    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Ignorance or hidden agenda?

    YWCA Misinforms Raped Inmate About Adoption, Pays for Coerced Abortion

    A raped prison inmate wanted to arrange for her baby to be adopted, but the YWCA's Battered Women Task Force falsely told her that her parental rights would be terminated just because she was in prison. The woman was not informed of the possibility of open adoption (or, evidently, foster care), nor was she informed that a woman had learned of the inmate's plight and had offered to adopt the baby.

    Now, let's wait for the outrage among prochoice groups about this vulnerable woman, who was raped while in prison, being denied a right to make a free choice about her pregnancy, about her being given false information, about her being coerced into a choice she didn't want.

    *cue crickets chirping*

    Two photos

    When looking for a photo to illustrate a point, I found this gruesome picture of a dead body.

    I was struck by the similarity to this very famous gruesome picture of a dead body.

    Why can't both outcomes be tragedies that we try to prevent? Why is there an entire political movement devoted to making sure that there are more and more corpses like the first photo? Supposedly it's to prevent more corpses like the second photo. But there's no evidence that embracing creating the first kind of corpse reduces the production of the second kind of corpse.

    There are all sorts of things that have been shown to prevent the production of the second kind of corpse. Basic sanitation. Antibiotics. Blood transfusions. And basic human decency -- an unwillingness to embrace a violent solution to personal problems. But we don't credit those effective steps with reducing the number of people who become the second kind of corpse. Instead, we sanction and enshrine the mass production of the first kind of corpse.

    And what is it that the person in the first photo did that was so wrong, that justified turning that person into that corpse?

    An abortionist's plea: Let the violence of abortion lead us to embrace it all the more

    Second Trimester Abortion Provision: Breaking the Silence and Changing the Discourse

    This piece was written in the hope that the more we talked openly about the reality of second-trimester abortion, the more accepted all abortion would become. If the author's prediction is true -- that the more we know about how gruesome and violent second-trimester abortions are, and the more we know about the rather prosaic reasons they're committed, the more likely we are to embrace the practice -- well, to paraphrase Jeremy Irons in The Mission, "might makes right and love has no place in the world. And I haven't the strength to live in a world like that."

    With that said, I'll provide a few choice (ha!) excerpts.

    In the United States (US), approximately 10% of abortions occur in the second trimester, and that proportion has been stable for the past decade.

    Ten percent of 1.2 million is 120,000. One hundred and twenty thousand. That's a lot of the violence and accompanying damage to the souls of those who participate. And I'm not the one here saying it's violence. This is an abortionist speaking -- somebody who does abortions and thinks that doing them is doing the woman a great and valuable service.

    Many of the factors that lead women to have second trimester abortions are not readily reversible (for example, difficulty with the abortion decision, not recognising pregnancy earlier).

    Note the lack of the reasons we're popularly told to believe that women seek later abortions: maternal health problems and babies with terrible congenital defects.

    Second trimester abortion by dilatation and evacuation (D&E) uses large forceps with destructive teeth to remove the fetus, generally in parts.

    You can go here to learn more about those forceps and exactly how they're used to dismember these babies.

    While training is clearly important in the decision to provide abortion, we also know that 38% of residents who are trained do not ultimately provide abortion services.

    Gosh, I wonder why?

    Kaltreider et al found that some doctors who provided D&E had “disquieting” dreams and strong emotional reactions. Hern found that D&E was “qualitatively a different procedure – both medically and emotionally – than early abortion”. Many of his staff members reported:

    “…serious emotional reactions that produced physiological symptoms, sleep disturbances (including disturbing dreams), effects on interpersonal relationships and moral anguish.”

    Why would they have such nasty responses to later abortions? Why the moral anguish, if it's just pulling out some unwanted tissue?

    This doctor writes, after observing her first second trimester procedure at 21 weeks:

    “Seeing an arm being pulled through the vaginal canal was shocking. One of the nurses in the room escorted me out when the colour left my face… Not only was it a visceral shock; this was something I had to think deeply about…

    The author, by the way, goes on to argue that being both physically and morally revolted by killing babies is no reason to stop doing it.

    When I was a little over 18 weeks pregnant with my now pre-school child, I did a second trimester abortion for a patient who was also a little over 18 weeks pregnant. As I reviewed her chart I realised that I was more interested than usual in seeing the fetal parts when I was done, since they would so closely resemble those of my own fetus. I went about doing the procedure as usual, removed the laminaria I had placed earlier and confirmed I had adequate dilation. I used electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position – it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier. With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery “thump, thump” in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a “thump, thump” in my abdomen. Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes – without me – meaning my conscious brain - even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life. Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.

    Her heart and soul are telling her she's doing a hideous thing, but her "training" and "feminist pro-choice politics" are brought to bear to trump her humanity, her ability as a mother to relate to another mother and grasp fully the value of the child she's busy destroying.

    What kind of dissociative process inside us allows us to do this routinely? What normal person does this kind of work?

    An excellent question.

    This brings me to the issue of violence.

    Yes. Violence. Her word.

    There is violence in abortion, especially in second trimester procedures. Certain moments make this particularly apparent, as another story from my own experience shows. As a third-year resident I spent many days in our hospital abortion clinic. The last patient I saw one day was 23 weeks pregnant. I performed an uncomplicated D&E procedure. Dutifully, I went through the task of reassembling the fetal parts in the metal tray. It is an odd ritual that abortion providers perform – required as a clinical safety measure to ensure that nothing is left behind in the uterus to cause a complication – but it also permits us in an odd way to pay respect to the fetus (feelings of awe are not uncommon when looking at miniature fingers and fingernails, heart, intestines, kidneys, adrenal glands), even as we simultaneously have complete disregard for it. Then I rushed upstairs to take overnight call on labour and delivery. The first patient that came in was prematurely delivering at 23–24 weeks. As her exact gestational age was in question, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team resuscitated the premature newborn and brought it to the NICU. Later, along with the distraught parents, I watched the neonate on the ventilator. I thought to myself how bizarre it was that I could have legally dismembered this fetus-now-newborn if it were inside its mother's uterus – but that the same kind of violence against it now would be illegal, and unspeakable.

    So what does she make of this schizophrenic attitude?

    I understand that the vital difference between the fetus I aborted that day in clinic, and the one in the NICU was, crucially, its location inside or outside of the woman's body, and most importantly, her hopes and wishes for that fetus/baby.

    And there you have it. Mom wants baby dead, doctor and society have (in the author's view) an obligation to achieve that baby's death on her behalf. But she never fully explains why. Why is the death of that baby -- a baby that she admits could have survived if put in the NICU -- something that the mother is absolutely entitled to, that we as a society and doctors as professionals are absolutely required to help her to achieve?

    But this knowledge does not change the reality that there is always violence involved in a second trimester abortion, which becomes acutely apparent at certain moments, like this one. I must add, however, that I consider declining a woman's request for abortion also to be an act of unspeakable violence.

    But why? This is an issue the author never explores. As Albert Camus said, "We shall know nothing until we know whether we have the right to kill our fellow men, or the right to let them be killed. In that every action today leads to murder, direct or indirect, we cannot act until we know whether or why we have the right to kill." The author starts with the right to kill (the fetus) as a premise, and reality -- including the reality of her own humanity -- must be contorted and crushed until it can be made to support that premise.

    Currently, the violence and, frankly, the gruesomeness of abortion is owned only by those who would like to see abortion ... disappear....

    Who, I would ask, could gaze at the violence and gruesomeness of abortion and not want to see it disappear?

    Instead of acknowledging what is on the placards, abortion rights activists may say in response to them that they are fake pictures or that abortions don't really look like that. However, to a doctor and clinic team involved in second trimester abortion, they very well may. Of course, acknowledging the violence of abortion risks admitting that the stereotypes that anti-abortion forces hold of us are true – that we are butchers, etc.

    Well, duh! If you spend your days deliberately converting babies like this into remains like this, all I can say is, "If the shoe fits...."

    In general feminism is a peaceful movement. It does not condone violent problem-solving, and opposes war and capital punishment. But abortion is a version of violence. What do we do with that contradiction? How do we incorporate it into what we are as a movement, in particular a feminist movement?

    An excellent question. One that she doesn't answer.

    But where does that leave the abortion provider and team? What do we do when caught between pro-choice discourse that, while it reflects our values, does not accurately reflect the full extent of our experience of abortion and in fact contradicts an enormous part of it, and the anti-abortion discourse and imagery that may actually be more closely aligned to our experience but is based in values we do not share?

    Why do you embrace values that you admit are contradictory to the reality you experience every day?

    Essays like this bring the inevitable risk that comments will be misinterpreted, taken out of context and used as evidence for further abortion practice restrictions.

    Taken out of what context? Out of the context, obviously, that starts with "Abortion is an absolute right" as a premise then tries to deal with the reality that abortion is violent killing of innocent human beings. If you start with questions, rather than presumptions, where would the reality of abortion lead you? What conclusions would you draw? You shall know the tree by the fruit. But abortion supporters look at the poisonous fruits of the abortion tree, yet declare the tree to be sound and good.

    To focus on the difficult aspects of second trimester abortion may further entrench abortion as morally tainted, allowing further disavowal and marginalisation of it.

    It's hard not to look askance at somebody who recognizes the heinous violence of abortion, who recognizes that it's killing, but keeps on doing it -- especially when the person can't clearly articulate why the destruction of these babies is supposedly so vital that it's worth damaging your own soul to perpetuate the practice.

    The last point I want to make on the issue of silence is that I see a hint that this silence may be breaking.

    I pray that it does. The huge drop in public approval of abortion since Obama took office is probably largely a result of the huge amount of discussion his candidacy provoked about exactly what abortion is.

    As the generation of doctors who provided abortions prior to Roe v. Wade retires, the cadre of doctors who now provide abortions are no longer personal witnesses to the horrific sequelae of unsafe illegal abortion.

    Rather, they're more likely to have been personal witnesses to the horrific sequelae of unsafe legal abortion.

    This younger generation of providers may go through a different kind of soul-searching in deciding to provide abortion.

    Or maybe, after their soul-searching, they'll decide not to perpetuate the practice after all, to help women to avoid abortion rather than to embrace it.

    We might conclude at this point that a provider who feels that abortion is violent is simply ambivalent, conflicted, is not really committed to women's abortion rights, and just shouldn't be doing this work.

    If the person recognizes that abortion is violent, why would you want him to do it?

    “Pro-life” supporters may argue that the kind of stories and sentiments I've relayed spell the end of abortion – that honest speech acts regarding the reality of abortion will weaken the pro-choice movement to the point where it cannot sustain itself any longer.

    Evidently we have more faith in basic human decency than the author does. Evidently we believe that few people have the stomach for embracing something as violent as abortion, once they see clearly how violent it is.

    There are ethical and moral positions that make complete sense of the position that says women should have full access to abortion – but simultaneously allow for discomfort with aborted second trimester fetuses. .... That is, even as we think that abortion is morally permissible, we are also permitted increasing discomfort, grief or loss with later abortions.

    In other words, as long as we're willing to keep doing the violence, it's okay to be queasy about it. Or as long as you're queasy about it, it's okay to keep doing the violence.

    [T]he reality is that women have all sorts of compelling and legitimate reasons for choosing abortion, and this is particularly true in the second trimester. In the US, the known risk factors associated with presenting for second trimester abortion include: adolescence, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, difficulty obtaining funding for the abortion, and African-American race.

    Does anybody else see something sinister in the idea that in listing the "compelling and legitimate reasons for choosing abortion... particularly ... in the second trimester" the author includes "African-American race"?

    Delays in obtaining second trimester abortion come when a woman does not realise she is pregnant (perhaps a surrogate for poor health or lack of education), has logistical delays, experiences denial about the pregnancy, is uncertain about the decision to have an abortion, or has a change in life circumstances or relationships that makes a previously desired pregnancy undesired.

    Um, if she's that uncertain about having the abortion, ought anybody to be actually performing it?

    Knowing that we help a woman navigate the complexities of her life is the great reward for doing what might otherwise be overly burdensome work.

    Prolife pregnancy centers help women to navigate the complexities of life. Abortion facilities treat women's unborn babies as mere "complications" and kill them.

    She goes into a morally revolting description of how the facility she works at decided, in spite of everybody's revulsion, to keep pushing into later and later and later abortions. Interestingly, there was no discussion of having encountered any evidence that there was some unmet need. There was simply, evidently, a presumption that to provide any abortion is to provide all abortion, and that therefore there was an obligation to push the limits further and further, until all abortions that can be done are being done.

    I am tired of “pro-life” representation of the work we do. It’s time for the pro-choice movement to claim abortion fully and use the experiences of providers to strengthen our movement.

    By all means keep talking. Keep talking about how violent, how physically and morally revolting abortion is. Please.

    HT: Jill Stanek

    1904: Abortion death blamed on doc

    On October 6, 1904, Mrs. Mary Lawson died at Passavant Hospital in Chicago, from complications of a criminal abortion. Dr. Alois Rassmussen was sentenced to fifteen years at Joliet for the murder, but was able to get a new trial. In this second trial, he was acquitted.

    Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.

    For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    1937: Woman names doctor, dies from abortion

    Eleanor Haynes, age 22, died at Hackensack Hospital in New Jersey on October 6, 1937, after indicating that Dr. P. Ralph McFeely had performed an abortion on her. Eleanor's fiancee claimed no knowledge of an abortion. McFeely, a school and police physician who was also president of the local PTA, said that although he was treating Eleanor for a "minor ailment," he had not performed an abortion. McFeely was not indicted due to lack of evidence.

    For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.

    Sunday, October 04, 2009

    Jackass Bureaucrat Alert

    Small Town, Big Government

    A guy got an idea to offer drunks free rides home from the bars -- especially useful since the town's taxi service won't pick people after 1 a.m., and the bars are still open.

    Well, the demand grew, and the guy and his volunteer drivers started accepting donations -- and the city shut him down. He's a "taxi service".

    Because they let the drunks they drive home give them money to cover the expenses.

    This is akin to a clusterfuck the government made out of a charity in my area -- free van rides to medical appointments. You see, the van service accepts donations, and -- GASP! -- picks up people who live on the Cambria County side of Windber, Pennsylvania, not just the Somerset County side.

    There's a certain kind of evil that just flocks to bureaucracy the way rats flock to a garbage heap.

    It's bad enough that the bureaucrats in Pennsylvania are content to see sickly elderly people unable to get rides to the doctor. But now we have these jerks who'd rather see people wiped out in drunk driving crashes than have somebody accept a few bucks for riding a drunk home.

    Saturday, October 03, 2009

    Rhetoric and the macabre trophy: The death of Rosie Jimenez

    In 1976, the Hyde Amendment went into effect, banning the use of Federal funds to pay for abortions except to save the mother from an immediate threat to her life. The measure was named for its author, Congressman Henry Hyde. Abortion advocates had been keening from the moment the Hyde Amendment was up for vote. They painted a ghastly picture of coathanger-impaled women littering the streets as poor women were driven to desperation by lack of "access" -- much the way they were keening last year about the upcoming vote in South Dakota.

    When the Hyde Amendment went into effect, abortion advocates ramped up the hysteria and waited for a death, any death, they could hang around Henry Hyde's neck.

    On October 3, 1977, the abortion advocacy vultures got what they'd been waiting for: a dead woman they could use as leverage in the fight to once again force taxpayers to fund elective abortions.

    On September 26, 1977, 27-year-old Rosie Jiminez had shown up at the emergency room of McAllen General Hospital in the Texas border town of McAllen, with septic shock. She was put in intensive care, but died on October 3 from renal and cardiac failure caused by disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (failure of the blood to clot properly) triggered by gas gangrene from a criminal abortion. She left behind one child.

    The initial response of the abortion lobby to news of Rosie's death was little short of euphoric. They had their trophy, their dead woman whose story they could leverage, they hoped, into the restoration of tax money flowing into abortion clinics.

    One voice stood out from the crowd: Ellen Frankfort, author of Rosie: the investigation of a wrongful death. Frankfort was disgusted with the bulk of the prochoice movement, who seemed content to make note of the death and then milk it for political gain. She began an investigation into what had led Rosie to her death, and she found a lot that neither the Centers for Disease Control nor abortion advocacy organizations had been willing to look for, since all they'd wanted was political leverage. They weren't looking for the real culprit behind Rosie's death: they'd had a bogeyman in mind even before she'd died, in the form of Henry Hyde.

    Off to McAllen Frankfort went, to learn all she could.

    Rosie had already undergone two abortions at taxpayer expense. The first time, she had not been using contraception, and a private ob/gyn in McAllen aborted her 9-week fetus on July 15, 1975. She went on birth control pills after this abortion, but quit using them when a physician told her they might impair future fertility. She quickly became pregnant again and had a second tax-funded abortion, this one done at a facility Rosie had been referred to by a local Planned Parenthood, at 11 weeks of pregnancy.

    The CDC's investigation after Rosie's death could not determine if she used any form of birth control after this second abortion. She became pregnant yet again. In September of 1977, she suspected that she was again pregnant, and consulted with a cousin and a friend, who told her that Medicaid would no longer pay for elective abortions.

    Rosie had also gone to her family physician, Dr. Homer, in McAllen for treatment of pain in her sternum. She mentioned that she might be pregnant. The physician did not arrange for a pregnancy test or discuss her options with her in any way. He simply informed her that Medicaid would no longer pay for abortions, and let it rest at that.

    It is interesting to note that in all the finger-pointing following Rosie's death, no prochoicer thought to place any blame on this physician. Evidently he knew about the two previous Medicaid abortions. Why did he consent himself with telling Rosie that there would be no more free abortions? A referral seemed to have been in order, either to a prolife center that would help her with the expenses of continuing the pregnancy, or to the local Planned Parenthood, that could arrange an abortion on a sliding scale and could possibly help her tap into private funds for elective abortions. Dr. Homer, in fact, was very much in favor of abortions and was aware the Dr. C performed them and that Planned Parenthood referred for them on a sliding scale.

    Regardless, Rosie's physician just dropped the news -- no more tax-funded abortions -- and effectively abandoned his patient.

    The week of September 19, Rosie went to Mexico for some sort of injection to cause an abortion. She had the shots at a pharmacy, at $5 each. The second injection made her ill, and she abandoned this means of attempting to get rid of the unwanted fetus.

    On September 25, she consulted with her cousin, saying that she wanted to find a cheap abortionist quickly. Rosie's cousin brought her to a lay midwife in McAllen, who charged $120 to insert a catheter into Rosie's uterus. Fifteen minutes later, she sent Rosie home.

    Rosie had pain and cramping upon returning home. Over the next 12 hours, she developed an increasing fever, and had nausea, vomiting, chills, dizziness, and increasing vaginal bleeding. The next afternoon, Rosie was unable to get out of bed. She asked a friend to take her to the hospital. She was admitted at 5 p.m., roughly 22 hours after the abortion.

    Rosie lied to the doctors when she was admitted, telling them that she was suffering from leg cramps and abdominal pain, saying that her period had just started and denying an abortion. She had a fever of 100.8, a rapid pulse of 108, respiration of 24, and a blood pressure of 110/80. These vital signs are an indication that something is wrong, but are not in and of themselves alarming.

    The physical examination, however, revealed cause for concern. Her abdomen was tender and guarded -- meaning that she tensed up when touched. Her uterus was enlarged and tender, and her cervix was soft and dilated wide enough for doctors to pass a ring forceps inside. She had dark bloody vaginal discharge. These are all signs of a recent terminated pregnancy -- whether by miscarriage or by induced abortion -- with infection and possible retained tissue.

    So despite Rosie's insistence that nobody had done anything to terminate her pregnancy, McAllen General's doctors accurately diagnosed a septic incomplete abortion. They did a blood culture and found clostridium perfringens bacteria -- gas gangrene.

    The doctors immediately put Rosie on intravenous antibiotics and fluids. They also performed a D&C to remove retained tissue from Rosie's uterus. These tissues, also, showed clostridium perfringens infection. Doctors also found placental tissue, confirming their belief that Rosie had indeed been pregnant.

    Despite the aggressive treatment, Rosie's condition deteriorated over the next twelve hours. She developed severe jaundice. Her pulse was a racing 160 beats per minute. She developed a rash over her torso and thighs. Her urine output fell, causing the doctors to suspect kidney failure.

    More laboratory tests were performed, which led the doctors to believe Rosie was developing disseminated intravascular coagulopahty. They performed a hysterectomy to get rid of the source of the infection. After surgery, her blood pressure was a low 90/60, her pulse a still-rapid 120, and her respirations a panting 30 breaths per minute.

    Within six hours of surgery, Rosie's heart failed. A consulting physician recommended intense measures to support Rosie's failing body. Over the next three days, her respiratory problems grew worse, and she was put on a ventilator. Doctors administered medications to correct the clotting failure, antibiotics to attack the infection, and intensive supportive therapy to support her failing organ systems, to no avail. Rosie died on October 3.

    The doctors reported the death to the CDC, the CDC notified their allies in the abortion lobby, and Rosie's death was quickly trumpeted nationwide as proof that Henry Hyde was a murderer and taxpayers should immediately resume funding elective abortions to prevent another such death.

    What is particularly telling in Rosie's death is that prochoice groups had been very successful in spreading the word that public funding for abortion had been cut -- Rosie's friend and cousin, as well as her physician, were well aware of this fact -- but they had pointedly failed to also pass out the word that Planned Parenthood referred for abortions on a sliding scale, and that private funds were available. It's almost as if the public-relations departments of Planned Parenthood and other abortion-advocacy groups had deliberately increased the odds of a tragedy like Rosie's death in order to provide the corpses needed in order to prop up a drive to restore tax monies to abortion facilities.

    Frankfort was particularly disgusted with the response of public health officials, who likewise simply announced Rosie's death and began a call to restore abortion funding, but made no effort to close down the illegal abortion practice where Rosie had undergone her fatal abortion.

    Frankfort took it upon herself to orchestrate a sting, with local law enforcement. She coordinated a dramatic raid that put the lay abortionist out of business.

    And what of the hysteria? Had it been justified?

    There was indeed a small spike in reported illegal abortion deaths after the Hyde Amendment (from 2 in 1976 to 4 in 1977 to 7 in 1978). But there was likewise a spike in reported legal abortion deaths as well -- a far larger spike, from 11 in 1976 to 17 in 1977. (I don't believe that the CDC's reported death numbers are accurate, but they're all we have to work with, and more to the point, abortion supporters place great faith in them.)

    Lest prochoicers attribute this jump to women having later abortions because they need time to get funds, we'll note that reported legal abortion deaths fall to 9 in 1978, then leap to 22 in 1979. And although the Hyde Amendment remained in effect, reported illegal abortion deaths fell to 0 in 1979, and remained at 0, 1, or 2 per year. Since this is fewer than the 19 in 1973, 6 in 1974, and 4 in 1975, when federal funds were available for elective abortions, it's hard to say that the Hyde Amendment was causing more illegal abortion deaths.

    The most likely explanation lies in Atlanta, not in Washington. When the Hyde Amendment was passed, the CDC launched a study designed to prove that cutting funds for elective abortions would hurt women. They intensified surveillance of hospital admissions for complications of all abortions -- legal, illegal, and spontaneous (miscarriages). Such intense, sudden increase in interest in abortion complications is likely to uncover abortion deaths that would otherwise go unreported.

    While it likely triggered the reporting of more deaths than would have otherwise been reported, the study did not find a higher rate of abortion-related hospitalizations for Medicaid-eligible women. To the contrary, the study, "The Effect of Restricting Public Funds for Legal Abortion," found "no evidence of a statistically significant increase in the number of complications from illegal abortions." In fact, they found that while there was no change in the illegal abortion complications, there was a significant decrease in publicly funded hospitalizations for legal abortion complications in cities where funding was restricted, compared to cities in areas where state or local government picked up the tab for elective abortions.

    In other words, cutting funds for elective abortions actually had a measurable positive impact on abortion complication rates for Medicaid-eligible women.

    So was Rosie's death a fluke? Probably not. The heavy publicity put out by the prochoice movement about how poor women would be "forced" to resort to dangerous criminal abortions probably left Rosie, and some others like her, with the mistaken impression that criminal abortion (rather than birth or even sliding-scale legal abortion) was their only option.

    So I'd place the blame for the death of Rosie Jiminez not on the Hyde Amendment, but on several factors:

  • Readily available public funds for abortion had taught her that she need not be careful about her sexual activity and/or birth control.
  • Public relations efforts by prochoice groups left women like Rosie with the belief that criminal abortion was their only option.
  • Rosie's doctor abandoned her, instead of referring her for appropriate counseling and care.
  • The McAllen midwife was willing to play Russian roulette with women's lives instead of referring them for either prenatal care or low-cost sanitary abortions.
  • Since she'd never had to pay for her own abortion before, Rosie was apparently unaware that a legal abortion was available for only a few dollars more than what the dirty local midwife was charging.

    I agree with abortion advocates that the death of Rosie Jiminez was avoidable. But I disagree with them that lack of public funding was to blame. Prochoice organizations had ample opportunity to tout other resources. Prochoice people all around Rosie had opportunities to steer her toward a "safe and legal" abortion, had they chosen to do so. Not a one of them did. And the bigger problem was that nobody ever seemed to entertain the notion that abortion might not be the answer in the first place.

    What's additionally puzzling about this whole turn of events is that the facility to which Planned Parenthood referred abortion patients charged only $130 for an abortion for poor women, just $10 more than Rosie paid for the amateur abortion that took her life. It's difficult to believe that a $10 price difference put the legal abortion out of Rosies's reach, especially since the day before her abortion she'd spent $8 on a cake for a friend's baby shower, and when she died she had a $800 scholarship check in her purse.

    Rosie remains a poster child of the abortion lobby. Their own role in her death is never acknowledged. Henry Hyde is blamed instead -- in spite of his key role in passing a law that reduced abortion injuries among women like Rosie, and in reducing complications, surely also reduced abortion deaths -- in spite of the abortion lobby's best efforts.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

    To email this post to a friend, use the icon below.