Friday, December 31, 2010

More honest than most, some abortionists escew the semblence of "counseling"

HT: Jivin' J via Jill Stanek

The Abortioneers: What I Hear You Saying Is...

Part of the pre-abortion process at my clinic is counseling. Clients talk with a counselor one-on-one to review their medical histories, discuss the details of the procedure, ask questions about the aftercare instructions, and work thorough any lingering doubts or concerns they have.

Note that the "counseling" lacks giving the women any actual information unless it pertains to "details of the procedure" and "aftercare instructions". And I doubt that the "details of the procedure" go into any real details of the procedure. "Your baby's heart will continue beating during much of the dismemberment process. He or she will wriggle and squirm so much that it's easier to pull off limbs if somebody presses on your uterus to hold the baby in place. And the edges of the bones can be sharp enough to lacerate your cervix. Then bits of your baby's tissue can get into your blood stream. Brain tissue is the riskiest -- it can cause a fatal clotting disorder." Hm... too many "details of the procedure". Those kinds of "details of the procedure" can interfere with "work[ing] through any lingering doubts or concerns" the woman may have.

And note that it's about "work[ing] through any lingering doubts or concerns", and not about ensuring that the woman is making a fully informed choice. And first and foremost among those things the woman ought to be told is that her distress, and even her rejection of the pregnant state, are not evidence that she won't be able to cope with motherhood. In fact, this distress and ambivalence, and even rejection of the pregnant state, are normal and typically self-limiting. Given an opportunity to bond with their unborn babies, most women will quickly change their minds about wanting to abort, and will begin normal preparations for the impending birth. And given a chance to address their fears, they will typically overcome them.

This has been well known for more than half a century. Planned Parenthood's own Mary Calderone noted, in her summary of the findings of the Planned Parenthood 1955 conference on abortion:

Conference members agreed, and this was backed up by evidence from the Scandinavians, that when a woman seeking an abortion is given the chance of talking over her problem with a properly trained and oriented person, she will in the process very often resolve many of her qualms and will spontaneously decide to see the pregnancy through, particularly if she is assured that supportive help will continue to be available to her.

I seriously doubt that you'll not find an abortion facility anywhere in the United States -- not even one with Charlotte Taft involved -- that tells women this.

"Treating" normal pregnancy ambivalence with abortion -- which is, after all, irreversible -- is every bit as irresponsible as "treating" a stonefish sting by complying with the patient's pleas to amputate the affected limb. Using irreversible and risky "treatments" on self-limiting conditions is appalling, and only the politics of abortion have made it acceptable.

Some clients ... roll their eyes at the idea and assume that counseling is yet another law with which the clinic must comply, a law created with the assumption that women don’t understand what an abortion is or that every human was once a fetus.

But clearly a lot of women undergoing abortions don't understand what abortion is. Planned-Parenthood-trained youth activists are convinced that the typical abortion removes "two cells". Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest perpetrator of abortions, clearly depends on patients not knowing what abortion is; otherwise, their lies would be easily seen for lies, and their patients would never trust them.

But the majority of the clients welcome the opportunity to talk with someone whose job it is to listen and to be pro-choice.

We can go back to what Mary Calderone noted and conclude that by "pro-choice", The Abortioneer means, "prepared to say whatever it takes to make sure they go through with an abortion." If the counselors were really pro CHOICE, the women would be, as Mary Calderone observed, able to resolve their qualms about having their babies. The fact that the patients uniformly end up going through with the abortion -- unless they stop to speak to the prolifers outside -- is abundant evidence of the slant the "counseling" takes.

I actually took the counseling portion of the program for granted until I learned that some very compassionate, professional clinics don’t offer counseling to their clients.

I'd love to know what the Abortioneer means by "compassionate" and "professional". Though if typical pre-abortion "counseling" is anything akin to what Planned Parenthood does, the patients are probably better off without it. They'll walk away with only the misinformation they came in with; they won't walk out with a head full of fresh lies. As is the fact that women "counseled" in abortion facilities have been known to change their minds after the abortion is started -- or even after the abortion is finished and they learn that the baby survived.

It could be a trick to save time ... or minimize cost ..., and it could simply be what has worked and continues to work for individual clinics.

We're paging Captain Obvious here.

Our Abortioneer asks for feedback from abortion workers and patients about counseling.

1986: Shoved out the door to die. Happy New Year.

Eighteen-year-old Sylvia Moore underwent a safe and legal abortion at the hands of Arnold Bickham on New Year's Eve of 1986. She was in the second trimester of her pregnancy, but Bickham used a suction technique suitable for a first-trimester pregnancy. After the abortion, Bickham gave Sylvia repeated injections of Demerol because she was reporting severe abdominal cramps.

According to Sylvia's mother, Sylvia was bleeding, weak, and unable to walk. When Sylvia tried to get to her feet and collapsed, Bickham called her "lazy," put her in a wheelchair, and physically ejected her from his Chicago clinic.

Sylvia's mother took her to a nearby hospital, where staff tried in vain to save Sylvia, who had arrived with no pulse and no blood pressure. An emergency hysterectomy was done to remove her lacerated uterus, which still had a plastic instrument embedded in it. The instrument was embedded in a 6.5 cm laceration, and Sylvia also had a 2.2 cm laceration of her vagina. Sylvia bled to death.

Bickham (pictured) claimed that he "didn't think there was anything wrong" with Sylvia, and said that he'd merely been helping her with the wheelchair. He blamed Sylvia's death on the hospital, saying, "They were successful in repairing the damage done in the abortion, but in doing that, they perforated an artery causing there to be blood loss in the chest cavity. That was something she was not able to survive." The autopsy report, however, noted the chest tube incision but noted "lungs are well expanded and the pleural cavities are free of fluid and adhesions." An attorney with the Department of Professional Regulation said, "This patient would never have been allowed to leave Bickham's clinic with her mother.

The postmortum report said: "The circumstances of injury, review of the Medical records, the findings at autopsy examination, and subsequent investigation of the circumstances of the case provide evidence of gross negligence and abandonment on the part of the original treating physician. In consideration of the above, the manner of death is determined to be Homicide." Had Bickham pulled such a stunt in 1886, he'd have been prosecuted for this homicide. But in the more enlightened, woman-centered post-Roe era, such things simply aren't done. Bickham faced no criminal charges whatsoever for Sylvia's death. (Though he did later face criminal charges for practicing medicine and dispensing prescription medications without a license, albeit without killing anybody. Evidently in our enlightened day it's a far more grave matter to be guilty of a lapse of regulation than it is to kill a teenage girl.)

The suit filed by Sylvia's survivors noted that Bickahm had failed to perform an ultrasound, and failed to have adequate staff or equipment. The specimen of abortion tissue sent from clinic contained segments of placental tissue, umbilical cord, and fetal intestinal parts and liver.

Sylvia left one child motherless.

Those who tsk-tsk over illegal abortion deaths and insist that had those abortions only been legal, the woman would never have been abandoned by her abortionist without care for her well-being might do well to remember Sylvia, shoved out the door in a wheelchair to die. Or Gracealynn Harris or Sharon Hamplton, also too weak to walk, also shoved out the door in wheelchairs and sent home to die. Taking away the fear that screwing up would land them in the hoosegow evidently didn't do much to motivate abortionists to provide adequate care to their patients. It certainly didn't motivate Benjamin Munson, Milan Vuitch or Jesse Ketchum, each of whom had managed to keep his nose fairly clean as a criminal abortionist, only to kill two patients apiece after legalization lowered the stakes in their minds.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

1955: A father's nightmare

On December 30, 1955, Chester Smith of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, went to New York City to visit his 20-year-old daughter, Jacqueline. She had moved to the city early in the year, over the protests of her parents, taking an apartment with two other women. She had dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

That June, friends had introducted the soft-spken, demure Jacqueline to Thomas G. Daniel, an urbane young salesman of 24. Daniel was well-read, multi-lingual, a poet and gourmet cook. He had come to New York from Warren, Ohio, three years earlier. He worked at an upscale shop selling riding equipment. With his good looks and sophistication, he was able to win over the slender, brown-eyed, small-town girl. She spent more and more time at his apartment, all but moving in with him.

When Chester Smith arrived for his holiday visit, he found that Jacqueline had been missing since Christmas Eve. He got Daniel and together they went to the police to report her missing. The police were quickly suspicious of Daniel and began to question him more closely. Daniel finally told police that Jacqueline had gone into the bathroom and stabbed herself to death due to his refusal to marry her, and that he had dumped her body in the Hudson River. At some point in the story, Daniel brought up a 46-year-old scrub nurse named Leobaldo Pejuan.

Police investigated, and found over 800 stolen medical instruments in Pejuan's apartment. The entire story eventually came out.

Sometime earlier in December, Jacqueline told Daniel that she was pregnant. Daniel did not want to marry Jacqueline -- he still had a girlfriend back in Ohio who he preferred. Instead he arranged for Pejuan to perform an abortion at Daniel's apartment on Christmas Eve. After performing the abortion, Pejuan became alarmed at the young woman's condition, and summoned Dr. Ramiro Morales, who told him that Jackie was dead.

Daniel and Pejuan cut Jacqueline's body into pieces and took it to Pejuan's home, where over the next several days they cut into as many as 50 pieces, which they wrapped in Christmas paper and disposed of in trash cans along side streets off Broadway, from 72nd to 80th.

Once police had the story, Pejuan pleaded guilty and testified against Daniel. Daniel's widowed mother attended the entire trial. Chester Smith, too, was there, but left the courtroom when testimony came to describing the dismemberment of his daughter's body.

Pejuan was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, and Daniel was sentenced to 8 years. His mother went into hysterics upon hearing the verdict, screaming, "God help me. They have taken my lfe, my savings, my son."

Nobody recorded the words of Jacqueline's father as he faced a life without his daughter.

Jacqueline's death brings to my mind the words of Susan B. Anthony:

Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!

Legalization has indeed proven a great boon to those who drive women to the desperation that impel them to abortion. I don't see that it's been that great a boon to the women. They're just as dead.

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

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1924: Death in Chicago

On December 30, 1924, 21-year-old Agnes Nazar died at Chicago's St. Joseph's Hospital from an abortion performed earlier that day.

On January 6, 1925, Rogie Hatal was held by the coroner as the guilty abortionist. Hatal's profession is not listed.

Mike Nazar, whose relationship to Agnes is not listed, was arrested as an accessory, as was Sarah Babian.

Hatal was indicted for felony murder on February 15, 1925.

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

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1904: Dying woman implicates doc in fatal abortion

On Saturday, December 30, 1904, Stella Murgatroyd died at the home of her parents just outside Jacksonville, Illinois.

At first her illness was blamed on pneumonia, but the doctor who treated her recognized the symptoms of a botched abortion and questioned Stella. She made a dying declaration naming the father of her unborn child, and the doctor who had performed the fatal abortion.

The postmotrem examination verified that Stella had indeed died from an abortion.

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

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today's anniversaries

  • Marcie Mayer was 19 years old when she went to Chicago midwife Mary Bing for an abortion. Marcie died in a Chicago hospital on December 29, 1907, from complications of that abortion.

  • "Beth" was 23 years old when she traveled from Massachusetts to New York for a safe and legal abortion in 1971. The abortion was initiated by injecting saline into Beth's uterus. But instead of the amniotic sac, the saline went into Beth's bloodstream. Beth immediately began to have siezures and went into a coma. She was pronounced dead on December 29, 1971.

  • Mary Ann Page was 36 years old when she went into cardiac arrest during an abortion/tubal ligation performed under general anesthesia on December 28, 1977. Both procedures were completed, then Mary Ann was taken to the Intensive Care Unit. Mary Ann suffered several more cardiac arrests while she was in the ICU. She was pronounced dead on December 29, 1977.

  • On December 29, 1987, 31-year-old Sheila Watley had an abortion at Concerned Women's Center in Houston, Texas. She was 17 weeks pregnant, and had one child. The abortion was performed by Dr. Richard Cunningham. About four minutes into the procedure, Sheila went into cardio-respiratory arrest. She was pronounced dead later that day. The cause of death was listed as an amniotic fluid embolism, which is when fluid from the uterus gets into the woman's blood stream.

  • Hoa Thuy "Vivian" Tran, like Holly Patterson, got her abortion drugs at a Planned Parenthood. Vivian was 22 years old, and died December 29, 2003, six days into the abortion process. The autopsy showed that she died of sepsis.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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  • Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    A scriptural reflection

    Hosea 12:3:

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And in his maturity he contended with God.

    GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
    Their ancestor Jacob held on to his brother's heel while the two of them were in their mother's womb. When Jacob became a man, he struggled with God.

    King James Bible
    He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:

    American Standard Version
    In the womb he took his brother by the heel; and in his manhood he had power with God:

    Bible in Basic English
    In the body of his mother he took his brother by the foot, and in his strength he was fighting with God;

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    In the womb he supplanted his brother: and by his strength he had success with an angel.

    English Revised Version
    In the womb he took his brother by the heel; and in his manhood he had power with God:

    World English Bible
    In the womb he took his brother by the heel; and in his manhood he contended with God.

    There's really only one point I want to raise here, and that is the clear continuity between what Jacob did in the womb, as a fetus, and what he did as a man.

    Jacob wasn't a non-entity, or a different entity, before his birth. He was still Jacob.

    This should give serious pause to those who profess Christianity who nevertheless try to convince themselves that none of the Scriptures addressing justice, hospitality, compassion, protection, or love apply to the smallest and most vulnerable members of the human family. You're standing on very, very shaky ground.

    The Bible doesn't mention cats. But it does state and restate that animals are to be treated humanely. From this we can safely conclude that we are to treat cats as humanely as we are to treat animals that are mentioned. Abortion as a form of killing is not specifically mentioned, but enough is said about killing the innocent to make it very plain that it's not an acceptable practice, and enough is said about children in the womb to indicate that they're within the human family. And what's more, the prohibition against cruelty to animals would reinforce the anti-abortion message, since what's unacceptable violence against a sheep or a goat or a bull would certainly be unacceptable violence against a tiny, helpless human. We're not to rip the legs off living livestock; how much more are we not to rip the legs off living unborn children?

    Yeah, the Bible never specifically addresses abortion -- just as it never specifically addresses child molestation, arson, or the use of nuclear weapons. But it does address how we are to treat children, and it never makes any distinction whatsoever between a child in the womb and a child that is born.

    "Even as you do unto the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you do unto me." Think about it.

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    1985: Abortion fatal for Georgia teen

    Arnetta Hardaway was 18 years old when she had a mid-trimester abortion performed by Dr. George Tucker in Atlanta on December 23, 1985. Arnetta continued to bleed, and developed infection, after her abortion. On December 27, she died from her complications. Tucker had an active medical board order on his license as of January 4, 2002. The Georgia medical board web site does not reveal the details of the order.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    "It's the pain talking"

    The discussion around this recent post led me to republish a post from a couple of years ago that may shed more light on the topic of why women who don't consider their unborn children to be mere disposable tissue end up on the abortion table.

    I remember when I was in labor with my daughter. When the pain got to be so bad that I had dry heaves and was going into spasms on the bed, I begged for drugs. The midwife sat down with me and very patiently explained to me that this was the pain talking, that I -- the me that was rational and not thrashing around in pain -- had wanted to do this without drugs.

    Pam wanted to make sure that I made a rational choice about how to deal with the pain. She took the better part of an hour, using snatches of time between contractions, to find out how much of the cry for drugs was me changing my mind based on how much pain there actually was versus how much I'd anticipated. We talked about what my values were, what my reflections on this experience were going to be after my baby was born, how the pain was impacting the progress of my labor, et cetera. Pam took a lot of time, going over every pain relief option with me, and finally the rational part of me chose a small dose of Nisintil to just take the edge off and allow me to use the breathing techniques I'd learned. And the Nisintil did the trick.

    Pam let ME, Christina, make the decision about the medication. She didn't let the pain override the choosing part of me. She didn't simply assume that the pain had changed my values or my wishes, that it "taught me a lesson" and filled me with wisdom of the value of drugging away labor pain. She reached past the pain to get to me, and to find out what it was I really wanted.

    Some abortion advocates often smugly gloat that many of the women undergoing abortions sob about how they never thought that they would end up on the abortion table, how abortion goes against their values, their core beliefs, their identity. But they feel trapped. They feel they have no other choice.

    My choice was about how much medication to use when I was in labor. It was hardly a life-altering, life-shattering choice. But Pam remembered the discussions we'd had, the plans I'd made. I was shooting for drug-free. Pam wasn't going to stop me from changing my mind if I had really changed my mind. But she wasn't about to let the pain make a decision for me that I would regret later. And I had changed my mind. Drug-free was my ideal, yes, but I was in so much pain that it was slowing my labor. What were my options? What would the impact of my choices be on me and my baby? Pam considered it worth the time. I changed my mind from "drug free" to "something to take the edge off the pain", under careful guidance from somebody who really cared about me an about my choices. Pam prevented me from just screaming for an epidural, a choice I probably would have regretted later and seen as a cop-out, with my hippie flower-child natural-childbirth values. Pam spent the time to get past the pain to the choosing part of me.

    Why aren't women weeping in the abortion clinic, about to make a life-shaking, life-altering decision, entitled to the same care and concern I got from Pam? Why is there nobody to say, "Is this really a choice that you are making rationally, based on new information? Or is this the pain talking? How are you -- with your values, your goals, your priorities -- going to look back on this choice?"

    When women who oppose abortion -- be it for all women or only for themselves -- end up on the abortion table, hardcore abortion advocates then hold them up as "proof" that even women who hate abortion "need" abortion.

    But is the woman signing the consent form as she wets it with her tears being served or being used? Is her existence "proof" of the "need" for abortion, or is it just evidence of poor "options counseling"?

    The answer is pretty clear to anybody who has eyes to see.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010

    Anniversary: A horrifying discovery

    On Christmas day of 1934, the nude body of a young woman was found in a thicket near a highway south of New York City. She had been dead between 12 and 24 hours.

    Laura and Joseph Devine, whose 19-year-old daughter, Loretta Wilson, had been missing since December 19, contacted authorities and were able to positively identify the body.

    Loretta had left home at noon on the 19th, telling the landlady that she was going to see a doctor.

    Loretta's family had reported her missing on the 20th.

    When an autopsy revealed the cause of death as abortion, Loretta's husband of two years indicated that he had not even been aware that Loretta was pregnant.

    A physician, John H. Becker Jr., who admitted to having examined Loretta on December 17, was charged with homicide in the death. He denied performing the abortion.

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

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    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Three anniversaries

    On December 24, 1908, Christina Pearson, age 38, died in Chicago from compilations of an abortion. Dr. L. A. Mueller was held by the coroner, but for reasons not given in the source document he was not charged. Christina's abortion was typical in that it was evidently performed by a physician.

    Today is also the anniversary of two other illegal abortion deaths, but I'll not give the details today, because to their families, they were only missing. One woman's fate was known only to her abortionist and his accomplices. The other's fate was known to her abortionist, his accomplice, and her boyfriend, who had arranged the abortion. The boyfriend was an accomplice not only in the fatal abortion, but in the attempt to cover up what had happened.

    I know this is a dismal topic for Christmas Eve, but that's reality. On the eve of the celebration of Jesus's birth, we must remember that abortion was still devastating families, and will continue to devastate families until we stop believing the lie that women and their children are naturally mortal enemies.

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    That explains a lot of the defense of abortion by post-abortion prochoicers

    I've seen this before in a variety of articles, but I'll just post this article as an example of where this phenomenon shows up (emphasis mine):

    ... the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position. If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with “I’ll get them next time”. If you invest everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and justify that investment.

    Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating.

    How far does this go to explain the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon of procohice women, totally traumatized by their own abortions, who nonetheless insist that it was "the right choice", and who remain totally committed to the idea of abortion as palliative even though they were traumatized, often to the brink of suicide?

    The article looks further at investments that keep abused partners in bad relationships. They can also explain why traumatized prochoice women remain devoted to the cause of abortion even when their own abortions left them devastated. I'll list the types of investments and relate them to remaining loyal to a soul-crushing abortion decision, along with loyalty to the prochoice cause that supported the abortion decision:

    Emotional Investment
    The woman has invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that she feels she must remain committed to the cause.

    Social Investment
    To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, she remains committed to the cause.

    Financial Investment
    I'll just refer to "buyer's remorse" -- the more you spend on something, the more likely you are to convince yourself that it was a good investment. I wonder if anybody's ever done a study linking the cost of the abortion with how vociferously the woman insists that it was the right choice, even if she's still crying about it years later.

    Lifestyle Investment
    Since people tend to associate with like-minded people, rejecting her social network's embrace of abortion would mean leaving herself totally abandoned and with no social support. And since lack of social support is often a contributing cause of abortion, many of these women understandably cling to what friends they still have.

    Any reflections from post-abortion women who went through an "I'm Still a True Believe" stage?

    1970: Children orphaned by abortion. Merry Christmas.

    "Kimberly" is one of the women Life Dynamics identifies on their "Blackmun Wall" as having been killed by a legal abortion.

    Kimberly was 25 years old and 18 weeks pregnant when she underwent an abortion in New York City on December 23, 1970. During the abortion, she went into cardiac arrest and died, leaving behind two children.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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    1885: Fatal abortion

    Harry McDowell began calling at the home of Dr. Sawdy of Howard City, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids, to visit Dr. Sawdy's 21-year-old daughter, Sylvia. McDowell usually came on Sundays and in the evening, and also corresponded with Sylvia.

    On December 10, 1885, Sylvia went to Grand Rapids by train, ostensibly to visit McDowell's mother. Dr. Sawdy heard nothing more from or about his daughter until the morning of Christmas Eve, when McDowell's father came to him, saying that he'd gotten a telegram or telephone call from his son. The senior McDowell said that Harry had told him that Sylvia was very sick and wanted her mother to go to her.

    Dr. Sawdy read the next day in the newspaper that his daughter was dead.

    It came out in the trial that in November, Sylvia had consulted with Drs. Bodle, Hake, and Bradish, indicating that she was pregnant. Evidence indicated that McDowell had performed an abortion on Sylvia on December 23, and that she died that day. McDowell was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years.

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

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    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    1891: Back alley abortion proves fatal

    On December 22, 1891, a Swedish girl named Tillie Thom was found dead at the office of Dr. Franklin Brooks in Chicago. Tillie had died of an abortion performed there that day. Brooks was found responsible for Tillie's death by Coroner's Verdict.

    Tillie's abortion was typical of those before legalization in that it was performed by a physician.

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

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    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    1970: Abortion stopover proves deadly

    Denise Holmes, a 24-year-old Australian woman living in Texas, decided to undergo an abortion at Avalon Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on her way home for Christmas of 1970.

    Denise checked into Avalon Hospital (an abortion facility owned by Edward Campbell Allred) on December 21. Denise suffered an amniotic fluid embolism that carried pieces of fetal bone marrow into her lungs. She was pronounced dead by Edward Allred at Avalon at 5pm.

    Denise is the first confirmed abortion death at an Allred facility. She died before the National Abortion Federation was founded, with Allred's Family Planning Associates Medical Group as a member.

    Other young mothers known to have died after abortion at Allred's facilities include:

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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    1926: Abortion by midwife proves fatal for teen

    On December 21, 1926, fifteen-year-old Emily Mueller died from complications of a criminal abortion performed somewhere in Chicago on December 11. A midwife, Magdelane Stegeman, alias Motzny, was booked on December 28. The coroner cleared Stegeman, but she was nevertheless indicted for felony murder by the Grand Jury on February 15, 1927.

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

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    Monday, December 20, 2010

    1926: Midwife's abortion efforts prove fatal

    On December 20, 1926, 23-year-old Mary Paradowski died in a Chicago hospital of complications of a criminal abortion that had been performed on December 13. An investigation lead to the indictment of midwife Josephine Petrova for felony murder in Mary's death.

    For some reason it just really, really creeps me out when midwives turned their hands to abortion. I just expect them to know better, to be less callous than doctors might be, to have a more maternal mind set. It's like how creepy it was that Sherri Finkbine was a Romper Room lady, not a mergers and acquisitions attorney who you might expect to take a materialistic, cost-benefits analysis attitude toward children. Midwives and Romper Room ladies are supposed to love kids. It's like finding out that the grayhound rescue crew is running a dogfighting ring. Disgusting enough when people you expect to be callous are doing it, really uber-creepy when it's done by people who really ought to know better.

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

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    Anniversary: Doc's failure to learn costs second patient her life

    WAKE-UP has posted state medical board disciplinary documents against Dr. Earl McLeod, regarding the death of an abortion patient on December 21, 1997. WAKE-UP has identified her as Jennifer Halner.

    On December 20, 1997, 27-year-old Jennifer went to Potomac Family Planning for a safe, legal abortion, to be performed by D&C. She was 6 weeks pregnant. She had no significant medical or surgical history, but had undergone a prior abortion performed by McLeod in 1995, under general anesthesia, with no complications.

    McLeod's anesthesiologist, identified in records only as Dr. K., started an IV, and Jennifer was hooked up to a cardiac monitor, blood pressure monitor, and pulse oximeter. Dr. K administered Versed (for sedation and memory impairment), Sublimaze (a short-acting narcotic used for short-duration pain control), Propofol (a sedative for anesthesia), with Lidocaine, a local anesthetic.

    Jennifer breathed on her own during the entire five minutes of the abortion. She was transferred to recovery at 10:10 a.m., still unconscious but breathing on her own. Her blood pressure was charted as 112/60 (normal), but her pulse was 103 (very rapid). A nurse identified only as Nurse W put an oxygen mask on Jennifer, but she was taken off the cardiac monitor and pulse oximeter when she was moved to recovery.

    After Jennifer's vital signs were documented, another nurse, identified as Nurse H, took the blood pressure cuff off of her and put it on another patient. Meanwhile, McLeod was in a second procedure room, doing an abortion on another patient.

    At around 10:20 a.m., Nurse W noticed that Jennifer was still unresponsive. She told a nursing assistant to get Zoloft (an antidepressant) from the anesthesiologist, who was still in the second procedure room with McLeod. As the assistant was leaving, Nurse W change the request to one for Zofran (an antiemetic). Then Nurse W went into the procedure room herself to get the Zofran.

    Dr. K gave the Zofran to Nurse W without evaluating Jennifer. There was no record that she had suffered any nausea or vomiting to warrant the drug in question. At about 10:25, Nurse W administered Zofran to Jennifer through her IV. Not surprisingly, administering an antiemetic did nothing to revive her.

    Nurse W returned to the procedure room and asked Kr. K for Romazicon, a more appropriate drug, since it is used to reverse the effects of drugs used for anesthesia. Dr. K again provided the drug to Nurse W without examining Jennifer.

    Nurse H went to take Jennifer's blood pressure, and she realized she couldn't find a pulse, and that Jennifer's pupils were dilated. She fetched Dr. K to assess the patient immediately. He found her unresponsive, with a blood pressure an alarmingly low 60/40. He stared a second IV and began to perform CPR, using a pediatric-sized bag-valve mask. Nurse H took over ventilating Jennifer, continuing to use the pediatric-sized bag-valve mask. This device would be unable to pump sufficient air into the lungs of a normal-sized adult.

    Meanwhile, McLeod performed two other procedures before finally entering the recovery room and finding his staff performing inadequate CPR on his patient. He administered additional IV medications, and later told the medical board that Jennifer was hooked up to an EKG monitor even though there was no documentation whatsoever of her cardiac rhythm. She was also not hooked up to a pulse oximeter that would tell the staff how much oxygen was in her blood. A pulse oximeter is standard monitoring for post-surgical patients and for patients needing emergency care; failure to use it on this patient was inexplicable. Also, despite the presence of two doctors, two nurses, and at least one nurses' assistant, nobody documented respiration, lung sounds, or any neurological evaluation, all standard for treating an unresponsive patient.

    Dr. K told somebody to administer Epinephrine, Ephedrine, and Lidocaine -- all appropriate drugs for treating a patient in cardiac arrest.

    Finally, at around 10:42 a.m., McLeod told somebody to call 911 -- something that should have been done as soon as Jennifer was found to be unresponsive. Paramedics arrived and found Jennifer in cardiac arrest. The anesthesiologist could not tell them anything about her heart electrical activity, which he should have been noting on the EKG. The medics noted the use of a pediatric bag-valve mask, and the fact that nobody had put a breathing tube into the patient to ensure that air was being pumped into her lungs and not her stomach.

    The medics immediately began appropriate resuscitation, intubating Jennifer, ventilating her with an adult-sized bag-valve mask, hooking her up to a cardiac monitor, defibrillating her, and administering appropriate drugs.

    The medics transported Jennifer to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, arriving at 11:09 a.m. The ER physician noted that Jennifer's pupils were fixed and dilated. After aggressive resuscitative efforts by ER staff, Jennifer's heart was restored to a stable rhythm, and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. But despite their best efforts, she died at 4:15 a.m. on December 21.

    The appalled paramedics reported McLeod to the medical board, which faulted him with failure to provide adequate and readily-available post-operative monitoring equipment, and failure to provide adequate emergency supplies. The board also required him to get his staff properly certified in CPR.

    An interesting note is this: The medical board indicates that McLeod told them that when he first opened his abortion clinic, he contacted the state asking for guidelines for a freestanding abortion clinic. He was told, he said, that there were none.

    McLeod also ran the Hillcrest abortion mill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Kelly Morse had died in 1996 after being inadequately resuscitated. Kelly's husband filed suit, noting, "No respiration rate was recorded, no pulse was checked and no blood pressure was measured. No EKG was applied. No cardiac monitoring was conducted. No pulse oximeter was applied. No intubation or emergency tracheotomy was performed." Evidently McLeod chose not to learn from Kelly's death the lessons that would have saved this Maryland patient's life.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Three illegal anniversaries

  • Myrta Baptiste, age 26, had abortion of her 10 week pregnancy performed by Orlando Zaldivar at Woman's Care Clinic in Florida on December 18, 1982. But something went wrong. Myrta arrived at the hospital in critical condition due to delay of transfer by the clinic staff. She bled to death from 2 uterine perforations. Zaldivar could not be reached for 7 hours while hospital staff were struggling to save his patient's life. Since Zaldivar's license was inactive at the time he performed Myrta's abortion, the CDC classified her death as being due to illegal abortion rather than legal abortion. The other deaths at that facility -- Ruth Montero, Shirley Payne, and Maura Morales -- were counted as legal abortion deaths.

  • On December 18, 1923, 40-year-old Sophia Hartozinski died at Chicago's County Hospital due to a criminal abortion performed there that day. The coroner identified a midwife, Mary Roback, as having been responsible for Sophia's death.

  • On December 18, 1871, Mrs. Amanda McCoy died at the home of Dr. Fahlbusch, a German woman practicing as a midwife and described as "of good reputation." She was cleared of any suspicion in Amanda's death. The Coroner's Jury concluded that Amanda had undergone her fatal abortion before coming into the city.

    I have no information on overall maternal mortality, or abortion mortality, in the 19th century. I imagine it can't be too much different from maternal and abortion mortality at the very beginning of the 20th Century.

    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. See Abortion Deaths in the 19th Century for more examples.

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

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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  • Friday, December 17, 2010

    Can we get our heads out of the sand regarding abortion deaths?

    Prior to legalization, prochoice advocates blamed women’s abortion deaths on abortion laws. Their argument went something like this:

    When abortions are illegal, doctors can’t do them for fear of losing their license. That leaves women with nobody to turn to except rank amateurs or themselves. Clearly, such abortions are fraught with danger, and thousands of women lose their lives every year as a result. Legalizing abortion won’t change the number of abortions -- women, after all, have always resorted to abortion -- but it will ensure that abortions are done in clean, regulated facilities by competent physicians. Such abortions will be far safer, and women’s lives will be saved.

    Every facet of this argument is flawed. :

    When abortions were illegal, about 90% of them were done by doctors. Some did quiet abortions for a select few women. Others, like Jesse Ketchum, hooked up with prochoice organizations and received a steady stream of abortion patients. Dr. Alan Guttmacher, a strong advocate of legalizing abortion, wrote in 1959, “The technique of the well-accredited criminal abortionist is usually good. They have to be good to stay in business, since otherwise they would be extremely vulnerable to police action.” These same doctors continued to do abortions after legalization. In criminal practice, most physician abortionists held to a rigid 12-week cut-off, and would not perform the riskier late abortions. This is why so many criminal abortionists also ran baby-selling rings, and may in part explain prochoicers’ persistence is seeing adoption as somehow sinister. After legalization, with the fear of legal repercussions lifted, physician abortionists often became reckless, resulting in patient deaths. Milan Vuitch is but one example of the abortionist who had a clean record in his criminal practice, only to get sloppy in his legal practice, with women dying as a result.:

    Non-physician illegal abortions were not as grim as propaganda paints them to be. The case of Geraldine Santoro, found dead in a motel room after her boyfriend attempted to perform an abortion on her, was held up as typical. As tragic as Gerri’s death was, her abortion was not typical of non-physician illegal abortions. Roughly half of abortions done by non-physicians were done by nurses, midwives, physician assistants, and other people with training in health care. The majority of these para-medical abortionists had a physician contact who provided training, equipment, medication, and consultation, and who would quietly treat any complications without reporting the abortion to authorities. And some non-physician abortionists who had no connection to the health care field -- the Jane syndicate in Chicago, for example -- still had physician training and support.:

    There were indeed criminal abortions performed by rank amateurs -- such as Geraldine Santoro’s boyfriend, whose only training came in the form of a medical textbook he had somehow procured. But legalization has not entirely eliminated these abortions. For unknown reasons, some women still allow amateurs to perform their abortions, as did a California woman who died in 1990 after she failed to show up for her appointment at a local abortion clinic, instead allowing her boyfriend to attempt the abortion with a plastic tube.:

    Another class of amateur abortions was and is what I call “Tupperware Party abortions.” After Harvey Karman invented the menstrual extraction (ME) technique of early abortion in the late 1960’s, feminist groups bought into Karman’s assurances that ME was so simple and safe that anybody could be trained to perform it safely. These groups formed tight-knit cadres that would gather in one another’s homes, train each other in the ME technique, and do abortions on each other. Afterward they would chat and have refreshments. Some groups would meet monthly and perform ME on all members of the group, regardless of whether or not pregnancy was suspected, as a combination female bonding and feminine hygiene ritual. These groups still persist, though not with the popularity they had before Roe v. Wade.:

    And then there are the self-induced abortions, which accounted for a portion of those 6% of illegal abortions done by non-medical persons. Nancy Howell Lee’s groundbreaking research indicated that women who self-induced abortions were not ordinary women making a risk-benefit analysis and deciding on self-abortion as the lesser of two evils. These women tended to be emotionally unstable, with a very poor opinion of themselves, and with in many cases almost as much desire to die and be done with life as to abort the pregnancy. Lee’s findings are borne out by the psychiatric journal articles of the time describing self-abortion attempts as a special class of self-mutilating behavior common in women with certain psychiatric disorders. Self-induced abortions, like other forms of non-physician abortion, still persist, for a number of reasons, ranging from mental illness to New Age anti-physician sentiment. Women still die from such abortions.:

    Although women did indeed die from illegal abortions, the situation was by no means as dire as the coathanger-impaled woman on every front lawn in America picture prochoice groups like to paint. Although abortion very likely had a high mortality rate in the 1930s -- a period when country doctors routinely performed any kind of surgery, not just abortion, on kitchen tables -- with the advent of antibiotics in the 40’s the mortality rate for abortion, as for all surgery, fell dramatically. And as new techniques were developed overseas, and emergency care was improving, and the use of new contraceptives was reducing the pregnancy rate, abortion deaths plummeted from about 200 in 1965 to about 100 in 1967. Without legalization, this trend would likely have continued, especially if there had been a widespread effort to reduce the number of abortions. Instead, abortion supporters pushed for legalization.:

    Legalization had a dramatic effect on the number of abortions -- which was what public health officials expected, even if this expectation was not voiced to the public. Carl Tyler, head of Abortion Surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control in 1970, testified to Congress that the number of abortions could be expected to skyrocket after legalization as more and more women came to consider abortion acceptable. Not only would the number of women availing themselves of abortion rise, but the number of abortions each woman sought over her lifetime would rise as well because abortion would be perceived as a safe and reliable alternative to the careful use of contraceptives. Tyler’s predictions about the abortion rate held true -- the number of abortions per year in the US increased dramatically, in some states increasing ten-fold in the decades following legalization. And the number of repeat abortions rose to nearly 50%, and has remained stable. Some US women routinely use abortion as their primary birth control method, and National Abortion Federation counselors have reported their facilities performing as many as 20 abortions on the same woman over the years. Tyler anticipated that as a result of legalization throughout the US, between 200 and 800 women would die annually from abortion complications. Tyler considered this an acceptable price to pay for the public health benefit he anticipated -- the eradication of child abuse by eliminating the births of “unwanted” children. :

    Tyler wasn’t the only abortion advocate who anticipated that carte blanc legalization would not be a bed of roses. Three British doctors published a caveat in 1971 lamenting that “the public is misled into believing that legal abortion is a trivial incident.... There has been almost a conspiracy of silence in declaring its risks. Unfortunately, because of emotional reactions to legal abortion, well-documented evidence from countries with a vast experience of it receives little attention in either the medical or lay press. This is medically indefensible when patients suffer as a result. .... It is perhaps significant that some of the more serious complications occurred with the most senior and experienced operators. This emphasizes that termination of pregnancy is neither as simple nor as safe as some advocates of abortion-on-demand would have the public believe.” Dr. Albert Altchek, an American with more than 5.000 abortions worth of experience, reflected on the likely consequences of Roe v. Wade: “As one who was active in promoting [legalization], I was elated. However, in a short while an inner deep concern developed. [Roe] was based on ... the court’s finding that such abortion is safer than regular childbirth. The latter observation, based on a carefully controlled series of abortions performed in New York State, may not necessarily hold true if the floodgates of completely unsupervised abortion are suddenly opened nationwide.” (Note: Bernard Nathanson, who oversaw this "carefully controlled series of abortions", later admitted that the records used to "demonstrate the safety of outpatient abortions" were shoddy. The clinic where they were done later was caught charting a dead patient as "pink, responsive, alert". Yet we're supposed to base public policy on their records.)

    Prochoice assurances that legal abortions would be regulated for safety have rung hollow. Although individual prochoicers tend to favor health and safety regulations, prochoice organizations consider any regulation at all to be government interference in the abortion choice and therefore intrusive and unacceptable. In every state, prochoice groups mobilize to attempt to neutralize any attempts at regulation. The most vociferous and successful such prochoice group is the Florida Abortion Council (FLAC). FLAC was organized in reaction to the Miami Herald’s expose of horrendous abortion mills operating in Dade County, Florida. There was much public outcry, and state officials closed some clinics and went to work, along with state legislators, drawing up a plan for oversight of abortion that would prevent such mills from operating. Owners of more reputable facilities banded together as FLAC, and developed a self-policing system, wherein they would form inspection teams and monitor one another’s clinics. They also lobbied the legislature and pulled strings in regulatory agencies to prevent government oversight of abortion. As FLAC co-founder Janice Compton-Carr said, “In my gut, I am completely aghast at what goes on .... But I staunchly oppose anything that would correct this situation in law.” They pointed to their own clinics as proof that oversight was unnecessary, glossing over the fact that membership was not only voluntary but burdensome, requiring member clinics to adopt expensive health and safety practices and to devote time to lobbying efforts, public relations, and the inspection of other member facilities. Of course, the facilities that are most in need of the kind of oversight FLAC provides are the least likely to seek it. Those abortion mills that do not adopt even rudimentary safety standards voluntarily are highly unlikely to embrace FLAC’s more stringent safety standards voluntarily. As Warren Hern pointed out, “Following good standards costs money. And people don’t want to do that.” As a result of FLAC’s efforts, Florida state officials may only inspect abortion facilities to ensure that a current, valid physician’s license is properly posted and that patient records are kept on file for two years. :

    To the press and to the public, prochoice organizations and spokespersons will insist that unsavory abortion facilities are a fluke, and that there is not widespread disregard for patient safety. To each other, they tell a different story. Warren Hern wrote a letter to the editor opposing abortion clinic regulations in Colorado on the grounds that they constituted an unnecessary intrusion. After all, Hern said, doctors are professionals and good medicine is the norm in abortion. But to his fellow abortionists at a National Abortion Federation (NAF) meeting, he commented, “There’s a lot of crummy medicine being practiced out there in providing abortion services, and I think that some of the stuff I see coming across my desk is very upsetting.” A malpractice consultant told another NAF gathering, “There are a lot of really bad abortion places out there.” But most telling is an exchange that took place during the discussion period of a session at a NAF Risk Management Seminar. One abortionist described a case in which he noted that he had pulled out a section of his patient’s bowel. He replaced the bowel, sutured hole he’d made in the patient’s uterus, monitored her more closely after the procedure, and then sent her home without informing her of the mishap, hoping that all would be well. The moderator of the session was appalled, and chastized the doctor. He then asked if anybody else in the room ever did the same thing. He counted six people who raised their hands -- six people who, even after hearing him scold their colleague, were still willing to admit in front of their peers such a grave departure from standards. One NAF member, Bruce Stierer, later killed a patient under exactly those circumstances. If members if NAF, with its sterling reputation, its resources for supporting safety practices, its claims that all members uphold the highest standards, are so slipshod in abortion practice, what can the situation be in unaffiliated facilities?:

    The end result of legalization can be seen in trends in abortion mortality. In the years following Roe v. Wade, the trend of fewer maternal deaths from abortion every year reversed itself. The number of deaths reported continued to rise until 1976, when the CDC dismantled their system for actively seeking to learn of abortion deaths. Suddenly, the number of reported deaths plummeted, and continued to sink. There was nothing magical in abortion practice in 1976 to account for this drop. No new technique was invented, no sweeping changes in the law or in regulatory practice. The only thing that changed was how the data were collected. The drop in reported abortion deaths after 1976 reflects not a drop in actual mortality, but a loss of enthusiasm for identifying and addressing maternal mortality from abortion. :

    The true situation is likely that Carl Tyler’s predictions were accurate. Based on his calculations about death rates, probably 200 women a year are dying from abortion complications. This number may have fallen somewhat in the late 1980’s, as saline and other instillation abortions fell out of favor. However, it is unclear what impact the growing acceptance of third-trimester abortions and the advent of chemical abortions will have. If the problems seen during clinical trials -- hemorrhage (one doctor reported how shocking it was to have patients checking in for follow up visits with blood running down their legs and pooling on the floor) and retained tissues (one patient still had not passed the fetus nearly 90 days after the abortion was initiated) - are paired up with the typical slovenly practices of American abortionists, the results are likely to be disastrous. Far from being a boon to women, chemical abortions are more likely to prove a boon to plaintiff malpractice attorneys.

    What can be done? Sadly, very little can be done without the cooperation of prochoice organizations, because they are perceived as the most knowledgeable and the most concerned for women’s well-being. However, we have seen that they do much to exacerbate the problem, both by blocking efforts to improve oversight of abortion facilities and by promoting abortion as harmless.

    First, the number of abortions needs to be dramatically reduced. The following measures, all of which meet with staunch opposition from prochoice groups, have been demonstrated to reduce the abortion rate:
  • Cutting government funding for abortions.
  • Requiring parental involvement in the abortion decisions of underage girls.
  • Waiting periods.
  • Allowing the woman contemplating abortion to see real-time ultrasound of her fetus.
  • Encouraging teens to become actively involved in their religious community.
  • Abstinence-based sex education programs.

    Another factor influencing the number of abortions is women’s perceptions of the acceptability of abortion. Nancy Howell Lee’s research indicated that the single biggest determining factor of whether a woman would choose abortion was her perception of what her peers would do in her situation. Frederica Matthewes-Green’s research indicates that the majority of women undergoing legal abortions would prefer not to abort, but feel pressured into abortion by those close to them, either by overt suggestions or even coercion, or by subtle failure to offer support to the woman in continuing the pregnancy. Restoring the stigma to abortion, and educating women about resources to help them continue their pregnancies, would go a long way toward combating those dynamics and reducing the number of abortions. Prochoice groups, however, focus their attention of glamorizing abortion (through celebrity endorsements), “normalizing” abortion (by disseminating statistics and stories about aborting women), facilitating abortion (by recruiting abortionists and establishing funds to pay for abortions), and encouraging abortion (by pushing for mandatory abortion counseling for every pregnant woman and girl). But prochoice groups go beyond merely pushing abortion -- they actively seek to thwart others in their efforts to reduce the number of abortions. This can be most clearly be seen in their vitriolic attacks on centers offering women help in continuing their pregnancies.

    The other angle in reducing abortion complications and mortality is to improve the quality of care in abortion facilities. Here again we see staunch opposition by prochoice groups. And even if prochoice groups were to become cooperative, regulation alone is not the answer. After all, many abortion facilities repeatedly fail health department inspections and manage to remain open despite patient injuries and deaths. What needs to happen is that we need to restore the abortionists’ motive to take all necessary precautions to protect their patients’ lives. Recriminalzation is one route that would achieve this end, but making the civil courts more friendly to the abortion-injured woman would also have a powerful impact.

    There is another factor, a more sinister factor, that seldom gets taken into account. That is sexual exploitation of underage girls. Abortion facilities have long known that at least half of their underage patients are victims of incest or statutory rape. However, instead of reporting these crimes, these facilities perform the abortion as requested and return the girl to her abuser. Stiff criminal penalties for abusers, and for facilities that fail to report these crimes, would drastically reduce teen abortions and therefore reduce teenage abortion deaths.

    The single greatest factor allowing the abortion rate to remain so astronomically high, and abortion practice to remain so slovenly, is prochoice organizations. The National Abortion Federation actually held a vote on whether to expel Warren Hern, a long-time member and staunch supporter of the organization, for his willingness to help abortion injured women pursue lawsuits against their abortionists. You would be hard-pressed indeed to find a more enthusiastic supporter of unregulated legal abortion than Hern, yet his willingness to place women’s safety above his political agenda has made him a pariah in the very movement he was instrumental in founding. As long as prochoice groups hold to their demands for unfettered abortion with no exceptions -- not even for the life of the mother -- women will continue to die needlessly.
  • Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Anniversary: A lingering death

    A suit was filed on behalf of Venus Ortiz, age 23. The following are the allegations raised in the suit against National Abortion Federation member Eastern Women's Center.

    Evidence indicated that the abortion of Venus' approximately 15-week pregnancy was performed by a Dr. Leiber. The abortion took place at Eastern February 24, 1993.

    The suit alleged that there was negligence in administering anesthesia to Venus, and failure to establish an airway. Brevital, fentanyl, and midazolam were administered in dosages and manners contrary to standards of practice, causing Venus to suffer a synergistic reaction.

    Eastern's staff failed to promptly diagnose and attend to cardio-pulmonary arrest. Eastern's notes of 5:35 PM indicate "2:35 PM end of surgery ... we noticed patient's ashen color and the pulse oximeter tracing and digital readout were gone from the monitor." Emergency medical services were called. The reading of Venus' blood pressure at that time was 90/55; four minutes later it was recorded as being 146/62.

    Venus was transported by ambulance to a hospital, accompanied by Dr. Cyrus, Dr. Goodman, and/or Dr. Jeffrey P. Moskowitz. However, the damage had already been done. Venus was left in permanent need of respirator, with profound brain damage. Venus remained in a coma/vegetative state. She was hospitalized a little over five months before being transferred to permanent nursing home care.

    To further underscore Eastern's neglect of patients' needs, the suit also noted that although this was her 4th abortion, Venus had not been referred to a social worker.

    Venus remained in a permanent vegetative state for the remainder of her life. She died in New York on December 16, 1998 at the age of 29.

    Two other patients, Dawn Ravenelle and Dawn Mack, also died of complications of abortions done at Eastern Women's Center.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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    1984: One we nearly never learned about

    On December 15, 1984, Mary Pena underwent an abortion at San Vicente Hospital in Los Angeles. Mary had thought that she was 3 months pregnant, but doctors discovered she was at 22-weeks.

    During the procedure, performed by either Edward Allred or Ruben Marmet, Mary sustained two cervical lacerations, and because she was bleeding heavily, a hysterectomy was performed in an effort to save her life. The surgery was not successful, and at 1:50 am on December 16, 1984, she died while on the operating table.

    Mary was 43 years old and the mother of five.

    The Investigator's Report states "Dr. Allred cleared the case with Coroner and body was released to the family picked mortuary ... and services held. When the death certificate was taken to Kern County Health Department they refused to accept it and called the case to Los Angeles Coroner. ... Mortuary in Bakersfield will bring body to this office for autopsy on morning of 12-20-84."

    Only then was cause of death attributed to exsanguination due to cervical laceration due to therapeutic abortion. The cervix showed two lacerations - a small one that had been sutured and a large unsutured one extending through the full ring of the cervix.

    Once a cause for the fatal hemorrhage was determined, the death certificate was accepted, and Mary was laid to rest again.

    San Vicente had been purchased by National Abortion Federation member Familiy Practice Associates Medical Group shortly before Mary's death.

    Other deaths at FPA include:

    Natalie Meyers and Sara Lint had died at San Vicente before FPA bought the place.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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    Anniversary: Safe and legal in New Jersey

    Barbara Auerbach was 38 years old when she went to a New York hospital for a safe, legal abortion and tubal ligation, performed December 11, 1982. Two days later, she was discharged. On December 16, Barbara was vomiting and suffering from back pain and inability to void her bladder. She was admitted to Princeton Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Doctors there tried in vain to save her life, but she died within three hours of being admitted. The autopsy showed that Barbara had an obstruction of her small bowel, which caused massive infection throughout her body.

    1925:Dr. Hagenow plies her trade

    On December 16, 1925, 22-year-old Miss Bridget Masterson died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. Police were able to question Bridget prior to her death, but she refused to implicate anybody. John O'Malley, a boarder and the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. He left a note implicating "a lady doctor at 310 W. North Ave." This was the address of Dr. Lucy Hagenow.

    Hagenow was arrested, but it is unclear when, since the date of her arrest is noted as being the day prior to Bridget's death. Hagenow was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on January 5, 1926.

    Hagenow was connected to numerous Chicago abortion deaths:

    1899: Marie Hecht
    1906: Lola Madison
    1907: Annie Horvatich
    1925: Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean Cohen, , and Elizabeth Welter
    1926: Mary Moorehead

    Hagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a doctor.

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

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    1874: Fear leads to death for Brooklyn woman

    "How Mrs. Seifred was Killed by Female Quacks -- The Verdict of a Jury" reads the subhead on a December 29, 1874 edition of The Brooklyn Eagle.

    The paper was covering the coroner's inquest into the December 16 death of Mrs. Christine Seifred. Christine had been unfaithful to her husband when he was away in Europe, and when he returned and learned of the pregnancy, he left her.

    Christine went to a midwife, Mrs. Johanna White, "whose den is at No. 99 Station street, when an operation was performed, from the effects of which both the woman and the child died."

    The police in their search for the abortinoists, employed a couple of females who visited the Stantion street house, and learned the nature of the business carried on there, and through their agency


    were connected with the outrage upon Mrs. Seifred.

    Police arrested Mrs. White and her assistant, Margaret Smith. The investigation determined that the fatal abortion had been performed on December 6, causing a uterine infection which generalized into fatal peritonitis. Christine had been about three months pregnant.

    The article then goes into some detail of the police investigation, which I will share:

    [The female investigator, Sarah Lupham] rang the bell, and asked if the Madame was in. The servant said that her mistress had gone to Jersey City and would not be back until 4 o/clock. Mrs. Lupham told the girl that she had come a long distance and did not care to go back again until she saw the Madame. The young girl then insisted on her waiting, and she accordingly took a seat in the parlor. She asked the girl the Madame's name and was given a Germon one in response. She told her that that was not the name she wanted, and then the girl mentioned the name of White. The female detective said that she had come there on business for a friend who wanted an operation performed, and when the Madame came in she offered to perform the operation for $30. The detective told the Madame that this friend of her's (sic) was illegitimately pregnant. The Madame said that she did not give medicines as they did more harm than good, that she always used instruments. The detective told the madame that a German friend of her's (sic) had recommended the madame to her, and perhaps she might remember this friend who had been there two weeks bfore. The madame then described Mrs. Seifred's appearance accurately, and the servant volunteered information as to the kind of instrument which had been used in the operation. She said they were about


    The detective made an appointment with the madame for the following Monday to have the oepratino performed on her friend. She went there as agreed, but told the madame that she feared the operation could not then be performed as the parties who had agreed to


    had not put in an appearance. When she asked the madame if she would be able to recognize Mrs. Seifredn's picture if she saw it, and showed her one when she said, "Oh, yes, that is the woman."
    The detective then made a promise to call again on Saturday last. Madame White told her that she had operated on Mrs. Seifred twice at the same visit, and that Mrs. Seifred had told her that she did not help it would cause three deaths -- her child's, and then her husband would kill her and he would be hung.

    I have no information on overall maternal mortality, or abortion mortality, in the 19th century. I imagine it can't be too much different from maternal and abortion mortality at the very beginning of the 20th Century.

    Note, please, that with 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 on this era, see Abortion Deaths in the 19th Century.

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

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Affair with seedy doc leads to unsought abortion

    HT: Covenant News

    The MSM coverage paints this as a picture of a doc just getting disciplined for an unethical sexual relationship (having sex AT THE CLINIC with a co-worker) and for some untidiness in his decision to perform her abortion himself once he knocked her up, rather than referring her to another doctor for the abortion.

    The documents from the medical board tell an even more sordid story.

    Dr. John E. Eiland worked at Grays Harbor Women's Clinic (an actual women's clinic, not just an abortion mill with a respectable-sounding name), as well as at its parent hospital, Providence Centralia Hospital.

    "Patient A", who I'll refer to as Amy, was a patient at Grays Harbor in 2004, and began working there as a medical assistant in 2005. She and Eiland ended up having an affair -- which included sexual trysts at the clinic.

    Around April of 2006, this affair produced the predictable result: pregnancy. On June 3, Amy told Eiland that she was suffering pain in her right side and some light vaginal spotting. Rather than refer Amy to her doctor at the clinic, Eiland arranged to examine her there after-hours, performing a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Eiland didn't document any of this, but during the investigation he admitted to it, and said that he'd preformed the exam himself after hours in order to keep the affair a secret.

    Eiland told investigators that he saw no evidence of a uterine pregnancy, so to rule out an ectopic pregnancy he decided to admit Amy to Providence Centralia. Eiland admitted that there was no medical emergency, and no medically valid reason to rush to treat Amy himself.

    Amy was five or six weeks pregnant. Eiland said that he warned Amy that the anesthesia for the exploratory laparotomy he was about to perform carried a 20% miscarriage risk. He had her sign a consent form for the laparotomy and, if "necessary", a D&C.

    If Amy did have an ectopic pregnancy, a D&C wouldn't constitute treatment because it wouldn't touch the pregnancy. On the other hand, a D&C would kill any embryo gestating in Amy's uterus. In other words, Eiland was tricking Amy into signing a consent form for an abortion under the guise of treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. He ordered an hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) test prior to the surgery; the results later showed an hCG level consistent with a normal uterine pregnancy.

    Once Eiland had Amy put under, he performed the laparotomy, which revealed that Amy had a uterine pregnancy, not an ectopic pregnancy. There was no evidence that there was anything wrong with Amy's pregnancy. But Eiland performed a D&C anyway, killing their child, Amy's child.

    Eiland insisted that he'd just performed the abortion to prevent Amy from suffering the physical and emotional trauma of a miscarriage. Evidently this story placated Amy, since she continued to have sex with him for two more years.

    How she feels now, when it's come out that he tricked her into an unsought abortion, isn't a matter of public record.