This is a guest post by an abortion doctor. Her name has been removed to protect her and her family.

I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you regarding abortion. I’m a doctor who does both 1st and 2nd trimester abortions.

Although most of my practice is general OB/GYN, I’m something of an abortion “specialist” because most folks in my profession don’t want to be involved in abortions. I work for a large group where abortions are sent to those of us who will do them, so I perform literally hundreds of abortions a year.

First of all, I and most of my abortionist colleagues are women. Most of us are Jews, atheists, and other non-Christians. Almost all of us are mothers. I continued to perform abortions late into my own pregnancies, and you could literally see the appreciation in the eyes of my patients, knowing that I accepted and supported their reproductive choice.

I rarely tell anyone but my closest friends and family that I do abortions because I don’t want to risk myself or my family. Those crazies out there scare me.

Who Gets Abortions and Why?

We all know that anti-abortionists aren’t really “pro-life,” they are “pro-forced birth.” They make huge assumptions about who the women are who actually have abortions. They think that all the women who have abortions are just young flaky women who have no concern for the life of the embryo/fetus they are aborting. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Most of the women seeking early abortion are either very young or in the late part of their reproductive life. The youngsters are often coerced into unwanted pregnancies by their partners, or they didn’t think or know that they could get pregnant. Some of the older women think they couldn’t get pregnant because they were “too old.”

The decision to have an abortion is an agonizing decision, that few women choose lightly. They will be criticized for whatever decision they make. What kind of terrible mother could kill her own child? What kind of terrible mother could give her child away to strangers? What kind of terrible mother would keep a child she can’t afford to care for?

Did you know that half of the abortions done in this country are done because of birth control failure?

The “pro-coerced birthers” think that these are immoral women who should be punished for their (sex) sins with an innocent child. Then they complain about “welfare mothers” who need money to support their children. Those “precious babies” become children who they don’t want to feed. Aren’t Christians supposed to provide charity for those who need it? Worse then that, they don’t want to use federal funds to provide effective contraception or abortions for poor women. They just want to keep punishing women. Of course, if it’s one of their own, she just “made a mistake, she’s really a good girl.” Abortions happen in the fundie community too, don’tcha know.

Did you know that 1/3 of women who have abortions had a partner who sabotaged their birth control method? This is true domestic violence.

Women who have abortions come from all walks of life. This is not a phenomenon of only the inner city. Many are educated, and most of them are just plain middle class people.

The 1st trimester and early 2nd trimester abortions are most frequently done as elective abortions for unwanted pregnancies. I don’t like to do elective terminations after 22 weeks because of the viability issue. Late 2nd trimester pregnancies are very different.

Virtually all of the late 2nd trimester abortions I do are for fetal anomalies, fetal deaths, and for maternal health reasons. These poor souls really wanted their babies. They are in deep mourning because of the loss of their children. They come in deep grief, many times feeling guilty because they are “killing” their loved and wanted children. They worry if the baby will feel the abortion, and they don’t want their child to suffer.

Performing Abortions

Many folks wonder what it’s like to perform abortions. First trimester abortions (dilation and curettage, D&C) are very unremarkable. Our patients are awake but sedated. The procedure is performed with a suction curette (hard plastic tube), and in the hands of an experienced abortionist, suctioning out the pregnancy lasts less than a minute. The “products of conception” come out as just a mass of undefined tissue about the size of a golf ball. No thunder and lightning. Most patients have worked themselves up to have it be a long, grueling process, but are shocked at how short the procedure is.

2nd trimester abortions are very different. The later procedure is much more difficult and riskier for the mom, hence the limited number of us who actually do them. They are also unpleasant, because the procedure (dilation and evacuation, D&E) involves pulling out the baby in pieces. That all being said, the procedure (in the hands of an expert) is much safer than inducing the delivery, and has a much lower complication rate that the induction does. Many of these poor parents don’t want to be awake for the birth of the child they are going to lose, and just prefer to lose the child under general anesthesia.

I’ve never done the famous “D&X” (dilation and extraction, “partial birth abortion”) procedure. This was the one that was outlawed because opponents thought it was too horrible of a procedure. The concept was to try to deliver the baby intact, but the brain matter was suctioned out to allow the delivery of the head through the cervix. This procedure was designed so that the parents of the child could hold an intact baby, back of the head covered up, after a surgical abortion. Not because we horrible abortionists love to torture babies and then kill them.

Why Do I Perform Abortions?

I would be the happiest person in the world to never do another abortion again. So why do I do them? Because pregnant women with unwanted pregnancies are willing to risk just about anything, including almost killing themselves, in order to try to end unwanted pregnancies.

I remember reading some statistics comparing abortions in the U.S. and Mexico, before they were legal there. About the same number of abortions were done in each country, just over 1 million abortions a year. In the U.S. about 10 women died as a result of legal abortion. In Mexico, about 10,000 women per year died as a result of illegal abortions. 10,000 women who were mothers, sisters, daughters, wives. Not pre-viable fetuses.

There’s excellent evidence that in countries where women control their reproduction, the families are more prosperous. Funny that, women knowing when it’s a good or a bad time to add a child to their family.

You would never pick out an abortionist in the crowd. We would probably be the last people you would figure. We are the kindest, most compassionate people you would wish to meet. We are, however, very passionate about protecting the lives and reproductive rights of our patients.

Last time I checked, abortion was legal in this country. But I can tell you that the people who oppose abortion have no feelings of any kind for the poor women who have to make the terrible decision to end a pregnancy for whatever reason. They want to end abortion because they love those theoretical innocent children.

Oh, yeah, forgot that we are all born sinners. Maybe they aren’t such great babies after all.


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It seems to me, however, that for most of those commenting on this thread, a "real life" situation in and of the present, has to be addressed so as to seek a "real life" present time solution to some serious problems about a woman's right to make certain choices as opposed to society's right to make those choices.

Do you see things differently?

I see where you are coming from. But my post that you originally objected to, again, was not directed at you. I am not sure why you think that this complicated subject can only be discussed in certain ways. If you do not wish to discuss hypotheticals or philosophies, then feel free to pass over my comments or don't reply to them.

While appreciate your adherence to more likely scenarios, sometimes figuring out unlikely scenarios provides insight into more realisitc situations. While I admit that it is not the first thing I would go to in a conversation, this situation is different and I felt required an exaggerated circumstance in order to clarify positions, since some people are unclear on more subtle areas. Larry said something along the lines that women should have a right to get an abortion at any time for any reason. So, my crazy hypothetical fits right in to his statement quite sanely.

Does that make more sense?
I agree with your sentiments regarding women's rights. But I have to disagree when you say "discussion of such is extremely interesting from a philosophical point of view, to give them importance here and now may not offer any practical solutions to the issue facing women in a cold cruel world". I don't see how it makes a difference one way or another which way you discuss it on an online forum. You'd have to elaborate on that for me.

But if you are going to debate anti-choice folk who hold their position because they place such a high value on the life growing in the womb, you have to talk about this stuff. Complaining about stretch marks or maternal mortality does not effect these people. The baby is what matters to them, and the baby didn't do anything to be conceived, but the mother did (excluding rape). So, they feel justified in blaming the mother (Puritan values at work) and they could care less about women's rights when they clash with the rights of what they see as an innocent. So making that the main thrust of an argument against minds that are set this way is useless and even likely to be counterproductive. I am not saying it has no place in the debate, because it most certainly does. But if you want to make headway, you have to make people think about their positions more.
I'm going to repeat myself here a bit:
.....few people here are face to face acquainted Atheists. Maybe only Adriana and Sydni have had tea and heard one another's voice, eyes widening or narrowing at the same time one sees hand gestures and body language that presents a complete "talking movie" picture of what two people might "mean" on this or any other topic......
..... I dare say that any man here, Atheist or believer dares not to walk up to a total stranger, obviously female and declare "life begins at viability, then abortion is murder, except in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life."
..... this is completely analogous to starting a discussion or shall I say imposition of the deeply intimate and personal feelings of "Justifiable homicide."
..... And I also dare say that few men here would walk up to total stranger wearing a Vietnam War veterans hat or combat fatigue uniforms and say "baby killer?"
.... Only here in the safety of cyberland do males impose their hate speech towards women..... if anyone here besides less than a dozen women and this single male Atheist abortion clinic body guard, would get off their ass and go to the nearest abortion clinic and listen to the threats, intimidations and obscene photos and signs imposed upon women in their teens to '40's by the tampon terrorists.... if you'd do that instead of all this senseless chatter and chitterings, we'd have a strong collective voice for secularity and feminism which would achieve bubble zones of safety and more enforcement of existing laws to protect women
I dare say that we have this corner of the cyber world so that we may discuss these things rationally with other people, things we CAN'T discuss normally in real life or find no oppurtunity or willing participants. I am not sure what your point really is, here. I don't "virtually" walk up to people in T|A and say random things, either. We talk about subjects here that most of us, if not close to a majority of us, rarely discuss in real life, face to face, with other people. This is not a revelation.

if you'd do that instead of all this senseless chatter and chitterings, we'd have a strong collective voice for secularity and feminism

So you condemn us for doing exactly as you do, here on T|A? Mr. Center, I admire you for what you do when you are not senselessly chattering and chittering here at T|A. I'm sorry that I am unwilling to relocate to crazier places in order to be wherever it is that these crazy pro-lifers are. In St. Louis, the worst I have seen is a group of ten or so holding signs that didn't conatin any messages or pictures that were exceptionally distasteful, and they were always away from the clinic entrance and not trying to get at the people entering or leaving. I make sure to politely honk and tell them to fuck themselves as I drive by.

Maybe there is a clinic where this type of thing goes on in my area, but I have not seen it or heard of it, word of mouth or otherwise. But there are a great many things I care about and I have only so much time and so much money.
Reggie: "Maybe there is a clinic where this type of thing goes on in my area, but I have not seen it or heard of it, word of mouth or otherwise. But there are a great many things I care about and I have only so much time and so much money."

No one is saying you have to relocate and invest the monetary value of all your earthly possessions to defend a fundamental human right for women. You can easily do some very simple things like voting with your wallet right where you live.

If you have a cell phone, you might want to check switching to Credo since they support responsible capitalism (they support equal rights) whereas Verizon donates loads of money to patriarchal Christian causes and anti-woman/anti-choice political candidates and lobbyists.

You could pay attention to the politicians in your state and only support with your vote those who support equal rights for women, specifically a woman's fundamental human right to have control over her own body (as opposed to state or church ownership).

You might want to attend a pro-choice rally (there's one coming up on Jan 22 in Washington, DC.).

If you regularly donate money to the United Way or the Salvation Army, you might want to instead donate to the National Abortion Federation which provides funding for poor women to get an abortion under dire circumstances. Since the demand far outweighs this foundation's funding, the few women who DO manage to get help from them often do not get approved for it until they are past the 12 week gestation mark, by which time the cost of an abortion is a lot more and is considered by law to be a "late term abortion" — for which there are very few providers nationwide.

The women in need of this foundation's help who have sought it and got helped would have certainly not waited until they were 13 weeks pregnant before finally getting an abortion: they would have gotten it much sooner.

These are things you can do that don't consume more time and money than you can comfortably give.
I realize this. But does Mr. Center?

There is a huge disparity between female and male lawmakers. Only 17 percent of the House of Representatives is female (2007-09). One might try putting their unbridled passions into helping more women get elected to office instead of spreading more vitriol. Volunteering for a campaign would be a hell of a lot more productive than engaging in shouting matches with online knuckleheads, of which, I just may be one of.

I know there are many things that can be done, and none of them need to include me trading spittle with pro-lifers during a face to face exchange of tirades in order to be productive in defending and furthering women's rights.
You didn't quite quote me accurately and kinda took my comment that you opened this comment of yours with, out of context a bit. You imply that I said Women's rights is a "philosophical.....etc., etc.

I didn't intend to truncate your quote in order to misrepresent it. I get exactly what you mean. I was just trying to keep it brief.

I agree that on certain fields of battle, certain tactics are more useful than others. In a letter to a lawmaker, waxing philosophical would be imprudent and pointless. In discussing issues on a social network, I don't understand your objections.

And don't mistake me, I am not here to argue nothing but unlikely scenarios. As I explained earlier, my particular scenario was in response to another member's comments. And I don't see it as all that unlikely that at some time, someone, somewhere, would want to get an abortion for what some might consider whimsical reasons, and be doing it close to the end of gestation. But really, this was all leading to a larger and much more relevant point. It all got sidetracked when we locked horns.

C'est la vie.

And yes, that was a poor analogy. ;) Partly because, and forgive me for adding to it's disfiguration, the invading army is invading because they are color blind and think we are flying a color they hate. Yeah...I made it worse.
I guess I don't see this as the front line or the trenches. But if you were to punish yourself by reading through all the comments in this very long thread, you'll see that the conversation has covered about all the ground that can be covered in the abortion discussion, philosophical and more. So, asking to continue my points elsewhere seems a tad late.

But furthermore, what you deemed as irrelevant, philosophical musings had a more relevant point that you seem not in the least bit curious about. But I'll share it, anyway.

When people stop making sense, say outrageous things, or mislead, they lose credibility. And if they are outspoken about a cause, they risk damaging the credibility of the cause itself. Where I was going with what you thought were silly musings was to actually making these points. If the folks who are on my side of an issue are yelling incredible things, I feel I have a duty to speak up and at the very least, get them to think about the things they say. Because, whether this is the front line of a culture war or not (which it is not, IMO), it is very important that credibility is maintained or else no one will have any incentive or desire to listen.

Hopefully my position makes more sense for you. And I will happily (or angrily) continue to post my thoughts, comments, and musings in public, whether here or on other threads. I like public discourse.
Reggie: "When people stop making sense, say outrageous things, or mislead, they lose credibility. And if they are outspoken about a cause, they risk damaging the credibility of the cause itself."

Oh really? Well then why have women's human and civil rights been eroded over the last 31 years instead of reaching the point of equal rights as citizens in this country? Apparently, the outrageous things said over and over and over by misogynistic, patriarchal pro-forced birthers and this nation's Christian "Moral Majority" have not caused these woman-hating God warriors to lose credibility — or else women would not have been in a three decade long losing battle with less rights to bodily autonomy than ever since the days of pre-Roe.

Let me share a little something with you from Greta Christina's recent Alternet article that applies to this discussion:

"There has never once been a marginalized group that has won recognition and rights by sitting back and waiting politely for it to happen. There has never once been a marginalized group that has won recognition and rights by doing anything other than speaking out, organizing, making itself visible and vocal. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
Oh really? Well then why have women's human and civil rights been eroded over the last 31 years instead of reaching the point of equal rights as citizens in this country?

Can you cite some current laws or cases that bear this statement out? So far, you have cited a case that was old and already ruled in favor of the woman (yes, sadly after she perished) and a case where the facts of the case were much more complicated than what you revealed.

I would like to see evidence that current laws are being eroded and that women's rights are moving in the opposite direction. Preferably something more clear cut, because as Mr. Lawson pointed out, laws cannot be made to cover every situation and there will always be battles in courts over things that may not have precedent. So, mother's accused of doing cocaine and having a stillbirth (whether she did cocaine or not is irrelevant at the moment) is not a good case to prove your point.

I'd like to see cases that run opposite of previous precedents and laws. And I say cases (plural) because you have said that civil rights (plural) have eroded. If you can show me this or I come across it in some other manner, then it would convince me that you may have a valid point about civil rights having eroded over the last 31 years.

Until then, emotional appeals I view as an attempt to fool me and articles about atheist/theist debate is an interesting digression, but a digression nonetheless.

And as Jen has pointed out, you are misusing MLK's quote, especially since I have never said that people should not organize, be visible, be vocal, or speak out. It is the manner in how we do these things is what I am in disagreement with you about. Either I am communicating poorly, your judgement is clouded by your emotions, or you are being subtly dishonest by trying to imply my position is something that it is not.

Reggie: "Complaining about stretch marks or maternal mortality does not effect these people. The baby is what matters to them, and the baby didn't do anything to be conceived, but the mother did (excluding rape)."

Screw the damn stretch marks! I am talking about permanent negative health impacts caused directly from pregnancy and birth! I am talking about internal organ damage. I am talking about permanently disabling conditions and possible death for the woman if she continues with a pregnancy. I am also talking about the rights and liberty of female citizens that are being taken away.

These "pro-lifers" aren't interested in thinking about their positions more — they're only interested in taking away my rights as a woman because women are not human enough for harm to matter.

Ever read the US Constitution? Liberty is a pretty important concept. It is reiterated in a considerable number of our Amendments, our Bill of Rights, and the Articles of the Constitution. Liberty is mentioned quite frequently as a right deemd of paramount importance. One that ranks right up there with life. For what is life without liberty?

More to the point: what is their wellbeing worth to them? What is their ability to enjoy a future sex life worth? What is their ability to enjoy full social and economic participation worth? What is their right to not have a disabling and permanently maiming or dibilitating health consequence enforced on them worth?

My liberty, wellbeing, health, life, and right to pursue happiness is not for sale at any price! My civil and human rights, my liberty as a female US citizen, are non-negotiable, period!

The procreative servitude they're justifying imposing on women is a physically restraining condition that not only deprives her of her liberty, but also endangers her health and life against her will — and without ANY compensation to her whatsoever! That is, by definition, the worst and most egregious form of chattel slavery there is. It is also, by definition, a crime against humanity and a serious violation of women's human rights.

The fact that their whole argument, right down to their extremist views on ovum personhood (something being advanced now), is premised upon being "pro-life" does indeed make raising issues of the detriment to women's health and lives an effective combat tool here. How can any of them say they're pro-life when they're advocating a position that is tantamount to handing women what realistically can be a death sentence for the punishment of having sex? There is no value of "the sanctity of life" argument if it is used to disregard the life of the woman. Period.

Reggie: "So, they feel justified in blaming the mother (Puritan values at work) and they could care less about women's rights when they clash with the rights of what they see as an innocent."

That is no different than them blaming blacks for inheriting the "mark of Cain" or "the curse of Ham" in attempts to justify slavery and Jim Crow. Look at our history. Sermons defending of slavery in the antebellum South were rife with this type of argument. Blacks unfortunately inherited the "curse of Ham" and thus were destined to be enslaved, just as women inherited Eve's punishment for the "original sin" and thus are destined to be "vessels worn out" and prematurely die from childbearing. We would not be giving any credence to the "curse of Ham" argument today, so why cut them any slack when it comes to the "curse of Eve?" Screw handling them with kid gloves!


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