Why This? Why Now?
Part Two: New Invention Put Into Practice
Prior to Roe, the only state that had the kind of carte-blanc abortion
(on demand and with minimal state oversight) was New York, which had "liberalized"
their abortion law in 1970 to allow abortion up to 24 weeks. The experiment
was a disaster. Criminal abortionists from all over the country carpetbagged
to New York to be free of the threat of prison. They took appalling risks
with women's lives -- performing risky procedures in their offices and
freestanding clinics, and sending women home to languish and die. An example
of the type of practitioner attracted to the new abortion business is Jesse
Ketchum, who had kept his nose fairly clean as a criminal abortionist,
only to kill two women in a four month period doing legal abortions.
The primary methods of later abortions were hysterotomy (which is like
a c-section, only with the baby deliberately delivered dead) and instillation (which involves injecting chemicals into the uterus to kill the fetus and trigger pre-term labor).
Both of these methods were terribly risky to the mother. Hysterotomy fell
out of favor after abortionist Kenneth
Edelin was charged with murdering a baby born during a hysterotomy.
Instillation abortions were invented in Rumania in 1939. It involved
injecting substances into the amniotic fluid to kill the fetus and/or initiate
labor. Various substances were tried, and abortionists settled on their
two favorites: hypertonic saline and prostaglandin. Saline killed the baby
by causing it to hemorrhage internally. Prostaglandin killed the baby by
causing such intense uterine contractions that the baby was (usually) fatally
injured during the premature birthing process. But prostaglandin had drawbacks
most American abortionists weren't ready to tolerate. Prostaglandin made
the women vomit, caused such severe contractions that the woman's cervix
sometimes tore off, and failed to kill the fetus consistently. The favored
technique for later abortions became saline.
Not that saline didn't have problems of its own. Saline had been widely
adopted in Japan after WWII, with at least 60 women dying and over 70 papers
published in Japanese medical journals addressing the risks to women's
life and health. When abortion started becoming common in the West, two
Japanese abortionists, Takashi Wagatsuma and Yukio Manabe, published a
number of articles and letters in Western medical journals, virtually begging
abortionists to abandon the practice. Aside from the risk of outright killing
the mother -- which saline was all too prone to do -- the method also caused
electrolyte imbalances in the maternal bloodstream. When the salt-rich
blood reached the woman's brain, it would leach fluid from her brain cells.
The body would respond by pumping extra fluid into the brain cells, just
as the kidneys were flushing the extra saline out of the blood. This would
cause swelling of the brain. This could cause brain damage even in women
who survived their abortions. But even more distressing to the abortionists
was the propensity of saline to produce a live but injured baby. In 1981,
the Philadelphia Enquirer exposed the problem of live births in
their expose, "The
NEXT: Addressing the New Problem
The Why This? Why Now? Series:
Part 1 - Inventors on the Bench
Part 2 - New Invention Put Into Practice
Part 3 - Addressing The Problem
Part 4 - New Opportunities
Part 5 - NAF and NRC Collide
Part 6 - Now What?
Like this link graphic?
to learn how to add it to your web page.
View the Cemetery of Choice Calendar
Send me your feedback!