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  •  Which "others" might you have in mind? (1+ / 0-)
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    william f harrison

    Those of us conceived before the birth control pill was available?

    Those of us conceived through assisted reproduction technologies?

    Or perhaps those never conceived at all, after their could-have-been mothers died because abortion was a crime?

    Dr. Harry Jonas remembers his experiences as a young physician in Missouri.


    When I was a first-year intern at the Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, the first patient I had was a woman who'd had 11 children and had self-aborted herself, because she couldn't get a legal abortion, with some instrument of some kind. And I was in charge of her case, as a young intern, with her intestine coming out of her vagina because she'd perforated the vagina with the instrument. And she had massive infection, multiple abscesses in all the vital organs in the body and she died.

       I still remember that patient. I remember exactly what she looked like. I remember the bed she was in on Ward 1418 in Barnes Hospital. I remember seeing her in the emergency room when she came in, and she told us that she was desperate because she had a husband that was gone most of the time and a troublemaker. And she could not raise another child. She could not feed another child. She had not been able to find any doctor that would help her. I'll never forget that.
       Many [women] ended up with illegal abortions, and many of them died. And for 25 years prior to Roe v. Wade in my state of Missouri, the most common cause of death in women of childbearing age was death due to infected, illegal, self-induced abortion.

    All of those women are "others," too.

    Dr. Eugene Glick is perhaps best known as the author of the authoritative text Surgical Abortion.  And Dr. Glick has his pre-Roe memories, as well.

       I remember one woman had taken a coke bottle, broken it off, fired the end of it so she made her own speculum. And she put the neck into the vagina and then got it against the cervix, and then somehow or other managed to get this rubber tubing up inside. And she got quite ill.

       I remember getting introduced to something called septic abortion. It is a condition that is caused by the breakdown of bacteria in an infected site. I remember a woman losing the tips of her fingers because of the endotoxic shock causing the blood vessels to shrink down. It was just terrible.

       They were denied the medical help to save their life unless they confessed. Detectives came in and were questioning. Whenever we got a hint that it might be illegal, or the causation was some sort of illegal operation, we had to report it.

       I'd say, "You're going to die if you don't tell us. You're going to die and it's going to be terrible." That's a horrible thing for a doctor to have to scare the hell out of his patient in order to save her life. It's terrible, but that's what we did. That's what we had to do.
       The image that I retain was that of a 31-year-old Mexican-American woman who died of endotoxic shock with her husband and four or five children around. I see the bed. I see the kids crying and I see the husband crying. It's a strange condition, this endotoxic shock. Your ability to reason and talk is fine. You just don't have any blood pressure and have a blue coloration. We know they're going to die and yet they haven't lost it. The last thing that goes is the brain. The kidney is shut down. The heart's going a little irregular and there's nothing we can do, because the bacteria and clots have gone throughout the body into all the blood vessels of all the vital organs, and yet they're talking to us. It's a sense of helplessness.

    If this is your idea of what is moral and right, I wish you joy of it.

    The TEA Fund: Practicing random acts of kindness to women

    by moiv on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:32:20 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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