Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Confessions of an Abortion Doctor: My Early Days and Ideas

This book is the first-person account doctor, who, as a young and middle-aged man, provided illegal abortions to women.

Here is an exerpt from the book:

This is a human-interest document designed to show troubled women that they have companions in distress.... I am not trying to be impressive nor am I trying to preach. This book might be called "Sidelights on Tragedy." If it will make a few less persons look disdainful or horrified at the word "abortion," I will have succeeded in my purpose.

Sometimes I find myself thinking wistfully of the days when I was young and sure of myself....

The Story of Katherine

I still had this holier-than-thou attitude when a very pretty blonde came to see me. She looked like a "nice girl," and this shocked me all the more when she told me, in a frightened way, that she was "caught" and she wanted an abortion....

It seems odd to realize that I was shocked about this. I had heard of girls who were "knocked up" and did something about it... I'd heard methods of causing crude abortions discussed among the medical students. In fact, I knew one medical student who worked his way through his senior year as an abortionist among the lower classes of the university town. He had told me something about the method he had used, but I had paid little attention and had disapproved of the whole business.

"...he says that it is my fault. And I guess it is. He asked me if I were doing anything about this, and I suppose I was a fool, for I said that I was. I didn't know anything to do. I asked a girl I know, and she told me to take a douche anytime within 24 hours."

Dumb as I was, I was shocked at this ignorance. Bit by bit she unfolded a story that was new and pitiful to me then but which I have heard so often since that I can supply it before the girl opens her mouth....

It was a case of the blind going to the blind. I was horrified and told her that, of course, I could not perform an abortion I had heard about some of the drastic medicines given in such cases and I warned her against them. I told her that I could go to prison for doing what she wanted, and I was against such things personally. I probably sounded fierce, for I was afraid someone would find out that she'd been to me with such a request, and I feared even that would get me into trouble.

She left me a great deal more frightened than when she arrived. I had told her that no decent doctor would perform an abortion. And I had scared her pretty badly about using any home devices. Also I'd added a little homily on her sins. I should have been shot, but I felt righteous about the whole business. She had some money. She'd been teaching school and saved several hundred dollars and she offered me the whole sum if I would get her out of the jam. I needed the money, but I felt a virtuous glow over turning it down. I was living up to medical ethics. I was being a good citizen and an honorable physician....

The next day her name leaped at me from the front page of the daily newspaper. Her body had been found on the doorstep of her home, at one o'clock that morning, by her brother as he was returning from a dance. She had shot herself, and she died in the ambulance on the way to, the hospital....

It shook me pretty badly. I tried to console myself by saying that she had not threatened suicide to me, that I was within my rights, in refusing to help her, and it was unfair of her to ask me to risk my future by performing an illegal operation.

...In the back of my head there was a nagging thought that I, too, was to blame. I might have found someone else to help her. I might have made arrangements. I was not so stupid that I did not know of a doctor whose legitimate practice was small but who, drove around in a big car with a chauffeur and had plenty of money. It was common talk that he did a lot of illegal operations. He was a pretty good surgeon, too.

It was all a mess, and I resented being dragged into it, and being made to feel guilty over the death of a strange girl.

[more online....]

Read it at Bank Of Wisdom online library.




Blogger moiv said...

Thanks so much for the link to Martin Avery's book. It's a valuable memoir from a past that we must never revisit.

As a woman who works in the field of abortion care, I found his patient's account of her own experience with what Dr. Avery considered to be the safest method of abortion (and since the Berkeley aspirator had yet to appear, he was probably right) to be as fascinating as it was horrifying.

1:23 a.m.  

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