Life, Liberty and the Unwelcomed Consequences of Abortion
By Dolores Edwards
Abortion is not an easy essay to write. Like a nervous batter I tremble at the plate. I don't want my words to hit an old wound, or to strike a pitch highlighted with a pointed finger, "Shame on women who have had abortions!" The only point in such an exercise is that there isn't one. Digging up old wounds is not my intent, then again, it's difficult to ignore the growing graveyard that is hanging over the head of women. Like a cloudy day it just becomes drearier and more dismal. America's women have been on some sort of abortion frenzy and the hangover just won't go away. I'm not certain that one can bury the memory of abortion, no matter how deep it is buried, no matter how much time has passed, no matter what the reason was. Quite simply, abortion hurts forever. Its memory never goes away. To be honest, the abortion pain is symptomatic; indeed the process of abortion contradicts the process of being a woman. When a woman aborts a child the body thinks that the woman has given birth to one. The body acts accordingly, from juggling hormones, to filling breasts with milk. It's been like that for thousands of years and all the abortion advocates cannot change what nature does naturally. Mother Nature has become an oxymoron I'm afraid. A cute poetic trick? It's not so cute for the thousands of women who suffer the aftermath of abortion.
I have been a woman writer for decades and the abortion essay has yet to be finished. How can it be? Each day another page of abortion details a fellow sister's diary. The words are always the same, "Dear Diary, today I did what I had to do. I never thought it would hurt so much. Will the pain ever stop?" If only, sister, I knew the answer. You see, I've never had an abortion, but I've spent years being a sister/friend and I've heard all about them. So the stories, along with the tears, teach me how much abortion hurts.
I've been told that the remorse hurts the most. The regretful tool carves a female countenance like a knife spooning a pumpkin on Halloween. A pressure sharp precision creates a mysterious mutation; a metamorphosis from possibility and hope, to remorseful rationale. It's just plain sadness to be honest. Sometimes the mask smiles, sometimes it growls, often it begins an aging process, with winter feeling like spring and summer like fall. And the dreaded anniversary of termination, that comes not once, but every year for the rest of a woman's life. The calendar then, becomes a dreaded reality, as question marks announce dates of aborted births, names never picked and graves never dug.
Men will never understand. And why should they? After all, they aren't cyclical creatures like we women. The moon's rotation doesn't direct their physic and the burgundy color of blood doesn't underline their reproductive personality. It doesn't scream out to them, "hey woman friend, I'm the curse, I'll haunt you for as long as you live." The friend is what my mother used to call it. The term 'curse' is much more fitting; the female curse, the filthy friend. Often it is prayed for like a lotto ticket after the loss of a job, or a get out of jail ticket after the loss of freedom, or a get out of pregnancy ticket after a moment's mistake. The friendly way out? The curse called abortion.
I know what you're thinking. I've never had an abortion. But once, long ago, my body aborted that which I longed to keep. It was a long labor as I struggled next to the bed of a woman who had just successfully given birth. It was the beginning of a memory (and it too) carved an imprint in my soul, and ultimately a dent, in what was a newly formed marriage. My husband was bartending to make extra money and I was selling pocketbooks to affluent women who would endlessly contemplate their choice of color, style, leather and price. I stood on my feet eight hours a day and even cleaned the bathroom if there was enough time, until I lost what had been in me for only four months. The cramps welled in my stomach like the September Ocean. Pounding and timed, the cramping lasted for two days and two nights.
I was 21 years old. Thirty two years have passed and still, it seems like yesterday. What was to follow was not especially easy. Ultimately a mother of four: divorced twice, reluctant to ever try again. I've studied American literature, read Shakespeare, and all that there is to read about broken relationships and broken families. I've learned to never trust therapists (one was a cocaine addict; I lost a house that was mine when I got married, the SECOND time. That was after I had his child at the age of forty, and before I slipped into a mid-life menopause, unleashing a rage that resembled the possessed child in 'The Exorcist'. In short, I was a woman driven by raging hormones, and a husband who didn't believe in the myth of mid-life depression. It was all in my mind. That is what he would say. The blood, the tumors, the sweating, the anxiety of my body's roller coaster. I was later told by doctors that I was being distinctly female. Mother Nature had plans for me and I was invited for the ride of a lifetime. I've never had an abortion but there have been moments when I wish I hadn't been born. Thoughts of suicide go part and parcel with depression. Ask any woman who has been depressed. Ask any woman who has given birth, whether it be naturally completed, naturally aborted or deliberately discarded. There is no way out of being a woman.
And men will never understand. Why should they? Men have their problems, and although getting women pregnant has been one of them, the experience of abortion superficially skims the radius of their mind. The only area of their life that is hurt by abortion is their pocketbook, and quite frankly, that's not always the case either. Just ask any man whose partner has had an abortion. Did he pay for it? Did he stand in the waiting room while it was occurring? Did he ask if he could watch? Did he ask to be her coach and hold her hand while the dead birth took place? How often have I heard the 'John Wayne' stories as fathers recall the messiness of birth. Imagine the messiness of aborted birth? How many dads would pass out at that sight? Let them have them hear the plop of undefined tissue, or the crunch of an overly defined rib cage, Invite them to see the blood bath warehouse where fetuses are discarded like mites in August's summer, where plastic bags are still moving with life that won't die fast enough. Best of all, invite them to glance upon the mother's countenance when she realizes what is really happening. Invite them in and I'm sure they won't go. Why? Because they're men and it's a man's world no matter how you view it. It's a world far removed from the dark and cold planet called abortion.
The memory of loss. The sound of a vacuum; and the tornado of ripped tissue. A cavity hollowed and dumped like garbage down a shoot. A tub of DNA whose potential will never be known, never introduced to the world that destroyed it. The world of fathers, parents, siblings and friends. They pass time in the waiting room, just a whisper away from the table, and the vacuums, and the knives, and the shelves of muscles: bones, eyes and heads crushed. A room of mothers distinctly female. Crushed from the experience called abortion. The experience called death.
Death hurts. It's never easy to write about and simply put, well, I've never died. My friend did though. My cousin did too. Both females in their forties, both derailed way before their time. Cancer. It doesn't matter. Forty was their last stop and still I look out my train's eye and wave goodbye muttering one final question. "Did it hurt? Why does death have to hurt so much? Doesn't life hurt enough?".
I've come to learn that it does. Life is the proverbial bull that we all have to ride. It's hard to stay on top (for sure) but ironically, even harder to submit to the room with the table, where passivity is the only menu offered. Ostensibly, the victims are strong and stoic; in reality they've surrendered to pressure and poor choices. They get sucked in by the subterfuge that they had the abortion for the sake of the baby, or the relationship, or the career. Similarly, for the sake of their sanity they believe that their abortion is no big deal. Until it's over, until they leave the clinic with sea legs that have been slam-dunked by the abortion submarine. The cold harnessing stirrups, the utensils of a slaughter house where cups of blood can by sold by the gallon and where the nasty sounds of suctioned out tissue can serve as a musical score for any modern day version of Frankenstein. Oh the 'mechanics' are kind as they wittingly suggest a headphone to drown out the sound of the tidal wave about to take place, but the buffer of music, whether it be rock or classical, only serves as another mask for detachment covering what is real and what isn't. A choice or a baby? The 'mechanics' insist that it is a choice, so waiting rooms are filled with countless victims who line up to fix the problem as if their body was a car needing an oil change. Victims are in by nine and out by one. Efficient and fast, a perfect frame for a very ugly picture. A baby is only real if you want it to be. The 'quick fix' subterfuge cleverly perched upon a pillow designed to choose comfort over truth. Unfortunately, the truth of abortion is that it is anything but comfortable. Post traumatic stress has a long memory and there is plenty of data to prove that it refuses to be buried. "In a survey of 1428 women researchers found that pregnancy loss, and particularly losses due to induced abortion, was significantly associated with an overall lower health. Multiple abortions correlated to an even lower evaluation of present health.These findings support previous research which reported that during the year following an abortion, women visited their family doctors 80% more for all reasons and 180% more for psychological reasons." 1
Clearly the psychological damage is an especially alarming concern for female teenagers who struggle for emotional stability to begin with. They suffer from depression, flash backs, low self esteem, drug abuse and promiscuity. In his book 'After Effects of Abortion' author David C. Reardon states, "In a survey of over 100 women who had suffered from post-abortion trauma, fully 80% expressed feelings of "self hatred" He goes on to say, " in the same study, 49% reported drug abuse while approximately 14% described themselves as having become "addicted" after their abortions. In addition, 60% reported suicidal ideation, with 28% actually attempting suicide." 2 Unfortunately, the psychological damage is often compounded by immediate physical complications which the woman ignores because of shame and fear.
"Approximately 10% of women undergoing elective abortion will suffer immediate complications, of which approximately one-fifth are considered life threatening. The nine most common major complications which can occur at the time an abortion are: infection, excessive bleeding, embolism, perforation of the uterus, anesthesia complications, convulsions, hemorrhage, cervical injury and endotoxic shock." 3
The abortion pill can now be purchased. Unfortunately, a young girl from Long Island took the morning after remedy after she realized that she was going to have a baby. Her parents didn't even know that she was pregnant. She cramped and bled and died. Her world ended way before it should have and one can only wonder about all the life that she is going to miss, and her parents, who are left behind to cry about their child who felt confident taking such a risk without their knowledge. And why there are scores and scores of mothers who cry for the baby that they will never know. I know that they will wonder because I had a baby once, who I never had the pleasure to meet, and still, I can't help but think that it could have been my fault. Well, my husband and I, (my first one) we were fortunate that we had to sign a death certificate back in1972 and our baby is buried behind a hospital where I like to go every now and again. Maybe we partied too much? Maybe I stood too long on my feet hoping to pay for a ride that had turns I never even imagined? The memory still hurts and I spend time with sisters who wonder like me. We all tell war stories about our lives; the men we have met, the mistakes we have made. Our kids too. Some of them are great, most of them are just like us. Hanging on for dear life.
Quite simply, life hurts. To quote the famous poet Langston Hughes, "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair." Women have been lied to. We've been fed the idea that abortion will make us happy and that the right to choose is the key to a life untainted with too many kids and too few mates. Abortion is the devise to cover up the real problems that we haven't even begun to solve. Poverty, abuse, drugs, disease, unequal education and the ignorance that is ongoing because of it. We somehow think that the pill called abortion will take the pain away. Like most medication it merely disguises the malady and the well meaning 'band aid' only serves to hide the horrific truth; the unborn child is nothing more than a scapegoat for everything that is wrong in our lives. The human condition is sometimes referred to as original sin. Perhaps the suffering did begin with Adam and Eve? One thing is for certain---it hasn't ended with Roe versus Wade.
Thirty odd years of Roe v Wade and 40,000,000 abortions later; women still are being battered, they still have difficulty getting elected anywhere, they still make a fraction wage of a man's and they still bear the brunt of sex with its obvious outcomes: pregnancy, STD's and childcare. We can clone a human but we can't find a way to educate females about birth control? The sad truth? We have educated them; they just can't be bothered to hear it. Too much work, too much time, too much responsibility involved. The bottom line? Abortion is birth control for many. The numbers are staggering indicators that females have taken less precaution, and even worse, less and less concern for their future reproductive life, or for that matter, for their present sexual one.
I've read the arguments. Women who have abortions are poor (as if rich women don't), they don't know how they got pregnant, they have no idea about ovaries or condoms or the implication of a missed period. It's amazing that they know nothing before the fact, and yet, when they realize they are pregnant they learn how to call an abortion clinic, they actually learn how to look in a phone book and figure out how to get there and find the money to pay for it. They learn how to fix their problem, until the next time they become pregnant. How would any ethical doctor wittingly perform five abortions on one female? A better question would be why? The horrid truth, of course, is money.
A Dr. Eric Harrah was a part owner of an abortion clinic chain. In an interview found in 'Life Issues Connector' he spoke candidly about the lucrative business of killing unborn children. "The average doctor who does abortions does abortions one day a week at a clinic averages 25-40 abortions. He will walk away in his pocket with an average of $100,000-125,000 a year. An average clinic that performs roughly 8,000 abortions will gross approximately $1,000,000 a year." 4 Harrah points out that this is part-time work and at one point he refers to young residents who look to the abortion business as a 'moonlighting' venture, a solid way to pay off student loans. This unfortunately, is the light side of his confession. Soon he explains how the business exploits women as a number and a dollar sign. "Abortion clinics are set up like cattle slaughtering centers. You get 'em in and get 'em out. I would say, honestly, about 60%-70% of all abortions take place on Saturdays. …you stop looking at women after a certain point in time as being people that you're helping and you just start looking at them as dollar bills." 5 The slaughter house analogy gets worse as the doctor reveals that a late term pregnancy is the most desirable because it demands a much higher price. "People in the abortion business don't want to do first trimester abortions. That's not where the money is. The money is in the mid-second to early third trimester abortions." 6 When asked if the doctor had any experience with Post Abortion Syndrome his answer was self explanatory as he himself began to experience the after shock of his own creation. "Yes, it's rampant—and actually, I had Post Abortion Syndrome. That's why I became a cocaine addict. I hated putting babies in strainers and rinsing them off and putting them in zip-lock bags. I consider myself to be an abortion-survivor because I was on a fast track of dying because of it. Post Abortion Syndrome is very prevalent-very, very prevalent." 7 When asked how he dealt with afflicted women he said his response was always the same "You'll get over it sweetie. Your hormones are going crazy right now. As soon as your hormones calm down you will be fine." 8 They are not often fine. Sometimes they don't even live.
"Legal abortion is reported as the fifth leading cause of maternal death in the United States, though in fact it is recognized that most abortion related deaths are not officially reported as such." 9
In a city like New York an abortion clinic is like the United Nations—off limits. What goes on behind closed doors stays there. Don't ask. Don't tell. Babies are being born alive and left to die, even worse, there are young mothers dying too. We just never hear or read about it. A random survey of the city's rescue and health care workers would shed some light on this frightening truth. Should we honestly believe that every legal abortion goes without a 'hitch'? Should we not question what happens when young girls are carried out of these butcher shops dead? How many twenty four week pregnancies were really thirty week ones? How many forms and papers are fudged? Out of pity? Perhaps. For the almighty dollar? Why not? Abortion is a business after all. Like prisons who need criminals and gin mills who need drunks, abortion clinics need girls to get pregnant. They need the business of the young so they keep them afraid and ignorant. They send them home like dogs temporarily adopted from The Humane Society; no training, no follow up, no home visits to see how they are doing. According to Dr. Harrah, "Abortion is totally unregulated! Anybody can open up an abortion clinic. Almost any doctor can work there, even anesthesiologists. A psychiatrist can do an abortion because she or he has an MD after their name." 10
The insanity of abortion is succinctly underlined by the current and ongoing controversy surrounding partial birth abortion. Feminists readily assume ownership of the knowledge that the procedure is barbaric, and like the infamous character Jack, in 'The Lord of the Flies', they hold on to this stewarding spear with blood on their hands, and hatred in their hearts. Anyone who dares to question their judgment had better run for the hills or get bulldozed down by the fierce warriors of abortion.
It's as if being a mother is corny and that getting squeamish over a mutilated child is like BEING a child. The abortion frenzy has evolved into a tribal one and any pleas for human mercy are put out like fire in the darkness. Politicians who cave into this murder are not always men but for the most part always women. Paradoxically, they are women afraid to stand up to the insanity because they don't want to risk what they have gained in the male political arena. Consequently, they have turned their backs on butchered babies, deceived mothers and maternal instincts cashed in for a vote…….all the while lining the pockets of wealthy male abortionists.
Women have started this fight and it is women who must now end it. Our right to choose has become the rope around our neck and the neck of our daughters. It has strung us along for thirty years and hangs us out to dry where future generations will view us as modern primitives who were assiduously uncivilized. It is time to close the abortion clinics and diffuse the stinking death that has contaminated our insignia. It is time to put male abortionists out a business which the majority of women wouldn't have the stomach for (and politely) patronize THEIR shattered egos as they wring their hands in women's blood for the final and last time! It is time to refresh our calendars with notes of caution, cleansing and courage where anniversaries will be celebrations of true achievements and intrepid choices.
Abortion has just hurt so much. Just like this essay. It's not that I want to hurt my fellow sisters. They are in enough pain. And the men will never understand and I can't help but wonder if they even care. I know that they will never care as much as I do. Because I lost a baby once and every June I look at the calendar and cry "Did it hurt? Did death hurt more than life?" Perhaps one day my baby will tell me. I cannot wait for that day. And for the day when all of my sisters will meet them again. The innocent faces that were never seen. The 40 million smiling angels who will never know how much they have been missed.
By Dolores Maria Edwards, For my mom, April 26, 2004
1. Ney, et al., "The Effects of Pregnancy Loss of Women's Health", Soc Sci, Med 48(9) 1193-1200, 1994, Badgley, Caron & Powell, Report of the Committee on the Abortion Law, Supply and Services, Ottawa, 1997: 319-32). Back
2. Reardon, "Criteria for the Identification of High Risk Abortion Patients: Analysis of an In-Depth Survey of 100 Aborted Women," presented at the 1987 Paper Session of the Association for Interdiscipliary Research, Denver. Back
3. Frank, et al., "Induced Abortion Operations and Their Early Sequelae", Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners (April 1985), 35(73). 175-180; Grime and Cates, "Abortions, Methods and Complications", Human Reproduction 2nd ed., 795-813, M.A. Freidman, "Comparison of complication rates in first trimester abortions performed by physician assistants and physicians," Am.J. Public Health, 76(5);550-554 (1986). Back
5. ibid. Back
6. ibid Back
7. ibid. Back
8. Kaunitz, "Causes of Maternal Mortality in the United States," Obsterics and Gynecology, 65 (5) May 1985 Back
9. Reardon, Aborted Women-Silent No More (Chicago, Loyola University Press, 1987) Back
Background graciously provided by: