I am a retired gynecologist, in my mid-80s. My early formal training in my specialty was spent in New York City, from 1948 to 1953, in two of the city’s large municipal hospitals.He then goes into more gory details about the various methods desperate women would use to perform abortions and an especially alarming case that required six hours of surgery to correct. If staunch pro-life advocates got their way and abortion were rendered illegal, the biggest difference we would see from this account would be that after these women were treated of their injuries, instead of being discharged they would be arrested for murder. (Meaning they would not seek treatment for their injuries or attempt to administer it themselves)
There I saw and treated almost every complication of illegal abortion that one could conjure, done either by the patient herself or by an abortionist — often unknowing, unskilled and probably uncaring. Yet the patient never told us who did the work, or where and under what conditions it was performed. She was in dire need of our help to complete the process or, as frequently was the case, to correct what damage might have been done.
The patient also did not explain why she had attempted the abortion, and we did not ask. This was a decision she made for herself, and the reasons were hers alone. Yet this much was clear: The woman had put herself at total risk, and literally did not know whether she would live or die.
This, too, was clear: Her desperate need to terminate a pregnancy was the driving force behind the selection of any method available.
My heart goes out to these women. I can understand pro-life advocates' horror at the government standing by and simply allowing what they consider to be outright murder, but let no one think that simply restricting abortion will make the problem go away, or even that its legal status is the biggest issue at hand. To do so would be to forget the lessons of history and focus on moral principles (the "right to life" of an unborn child) over people.