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Lime 5

Lime 5 didn't start out as a book. It started out as a report on abortion malpractice. But after a couple of weeks of digging through the files at Life Dynamics, we realized that there was a lot of information out there. It would take a book to convey it.

From time to time, LDI President Mark Crutcher would call a brainstorming session to try to find the right title.

At first we were hung up on the idea of "choice." Bitter Choices. Betrayed by Choice. The Price of Choice. Deadly Choices. But frankly, they all sounded trite and, well, slogany. We went back to work to stew on it some more.

Somewhere along the line, an ex-abortionist had decided to donate a box of abortion instruments to Life Dynamics. Mark loved showing them to new employees. He'd reach into the box and pull out a tenaculum. It looked like something Torquemada would invent. Even the men would cringe just looking at it. (Here's a picture so you know what I'm talking about -- trust me, they are very sharp and pointy and look a lot scarier when somebody's coming at you with them.) Lots of words come to mind when somebody's brandishing a tenaculum at you. "Gentle" and "painless" are not among them. "Goodbye" is at the head of the list. The women especially were of the opinion that all a conscientious pro lifer would have to do is walk around outside an abortion clinic showing people a tenaculum. "Here," the pro lifer could say, "this is what they'll use to grab your cervix." That would be enough to send me packing. Of all the terms I come across reading medical journals, "tenaculum tear" is the one that makes me cringe every time.

Given that the tenaculum encounter was a Life Dynamics rite of passage, it came up when we got tired and started grasping at straws. Tooth of the Tenaculum. The Tenaculum Bites Back. Tenaculum Terror. We started to sound as if we were planning to do a remake of Dead Ringers starring Vincent Price. It was too flippant. Besides, who would know what the heck we were talking about anyway? Back to work we went, still with no title for our book.

The next brainstorming session came while Dzintra was working on the chapter about abortionists. She suggested that the experiences of abortion workers might provoke haunting, cryptic titles. We considered the lives of various abortionists. We thought of Raymond "The Chinese Bandit" Showery, the studio wrestler turned legal abortionist. He'd let Mickey Apodaca bleed to death from an abortion while he was out on bail pending appeal of a murder conviction. His strange behavior and remarks -- like his pronouncement that the Edsel was a flop because "it looks like a gigantic vagina rolling down the highway" -- made for lively conversation. But there was nothing we could use for a title. (And I'll bet you never look at an Edsel the same way again.)

Dzintra started telling us about abortionists' nightmares: trees full of crawling fetuses, buckets of blood splashed everywhere, fetuses staring at the dreamer "with ancient eyes," a condemning white ring of fellow nurses watching.... Bitter Harvest. The Ring of White. They Stare at Us With Ancient Eyes. Nothing worked. We went back to our offices, pondering.

Dzintra's suggestion had jolted us out of our ruts, though. As we worked, we let our minds play with what we were seeing. In the next brainstorming session, we started just tossing out things from the content of the book. Nothing seemed right. Then Mona said, "Lime 5."

"Lime 5?!" Mark stared. But I had abstracted the case after Mona had uncovered it. I knew exactly what she meant. We filled everyone in.

A young woman named Jennifer had gone to a clinic for an abortion. There, they had told her that she would not use her name, but would be identified as "Lime 5." From numerous cases, we surmised that this clinic identified each woman as a color -- to indicate the procedure room, most likely -- and a number -- most likely to indicate which patient she was in the queue for that room. The abortionist came into the procedure room for Jennifer's abortion, wearing street clothes instead of scrubs. His shirt was unbuttonned to expose his hairy chest. He and the nurse engaged in sexual banter and sex play during the abortion. And then the abortionist didn't even do what he'd been paid to do. The fetus survived the abortion unscathed, and Jennifer remained pregnant. We saw that as a reprieve, not an injury, but Jennifer saw it differently. She sued. And then the clinic that wouldn't even call her by name inside the privacy of their walls blocked her efforts to sue under an assumed name.

Jennifer's case certainly wasn't a worst case scenario. It was just -- typical. The less than sanitary clinic, repeatedly investigated for unsavory practices but still able to remain open. The abortionist who would be at home in any "back alley" scenario. The sexually inappropriate behavior. The depersonalization. The disrespect. The ruthless shredding of the woman's confidentiality when she dared to cross them. The story of Jennifer, AKA "Lime 5," was almost archetypal.

Lime 5 it was.

For more behind-the-scenes glimpses at abortion practices, visit:
Abortion Malpractice
Abortion Mortality
Behind Closed Doors
Believe it or Not
Fraud, Crime, and Tax Evasion