Friday, April 05, 2013

Safe Legal Suicide and a Criminal Death

On April 5, 2001, Donetta Robben‘s 22-year-old niece, "Haley Mason," didn‘t show up for work. The police got the landlord and went to the young woman's apartment. They found her dead. Her family members were stunned when Haley's diary revealed that under the urging of her boyfriend, "Todd," she had gone for an abortion at the Bellevue, Nebraska practice of Dr. Leroy Carhart in late October of 2000. Haley found the abortion stressful: the wait, the sounds, the crude and uncaring behavior of the doctor. Haley‘d been told to arrive at the clinic at 7:00 in the morning, but it was ten hours before she was finally on the table, ready for the abortion. Carhart walked in, clad in a dirty coat and glasses so smeared that Haley‘s friend, who had accompanied her, wondered how he could even see. After the abortion, Haley suffered continued bleeding which was a constant reminder of her unborn baby's death. Haley told few people about the abortion, and told none of them of her struggle to cope with the emotional pain. She kept telling herself that she‘d done the best thing. Todd came by at early hours, looking for sex. Haley submitted, but she had to get drunk to endure the sex, which only reminded her of the abortion. Haley no longer felt loved. She felt used.  Hot baths and quick jogs provided temporary relief from the anguish, but it always returned. Finally, Haley could stand it no more. She washed down a bottle of aspirin and a bottle of Benadryl with a bottle of vodka, putting the three empty bottles next to the a photograph of her late mother and grandfather. She put her rosary around her neck, opened her journal to the day of the abortion, and lay on her bed for the rest she could no longer find in living.

On the morning of April 5, 1927, Arhne Reynolds died at the office of Dr. Louis Ginsburg from an abortion performed on her there that day. Ginsburg was arrested on April 18, and indicted for felony murder on May 15. Arhne's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

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