Raise your hand if you've heard about how abortion just has to be legal, or else women would have to face them grisly back-alley abortions.
Of all the justifications for the current state of abortion in the
United States, this is the one that probably steams me the most,
personally. I've reviewed about 6,000 abortion injury and death cases.
I've gone through boxes of nothing but autopsy reports on young women
and girls dead for no good reason. The idea that it's okay to kill some
women legally in order to prevent other women from being killed
illegally gets to me.
We can start with Jammie Garcia.
When the documents for Lime 5
were pouring in, I was an abstracting machine. I had a three to four
foot stack of documents in my office on any given day that I had to plow
through, skim, highlight, read, summarize. I learned to be very
detached and clinical, to just get the words and ideas and not let it
get to me. But Jammie Garcia got to me.
The first document I reviewed was a March 1994 report on an inspection done in response to a patient death in a clinic owned by Dr. Moshe Hachamovitch.
The report said that the staff were inadequately trained in how to
properly sterilize instruments. The administrator, Kristen Hing Fehr,
was evidently aware of the fact that the autoclave used to sterilize
instruments was not functioning properly. As for the instruments
themselves, "two loop forceps, two tenaculums and one curette were found
to have small particles of dried brownish-dark red material on them.
Three speculums were found to have small particles of dried clear
material on them." "The only sterilized abortion tray in the procedure
room was found to contain a curette with a loop whose edge was visibly
jagged instead of smooth." (Source: Travis County District Court Cause No. 94-07517)
Untrained staff? Dirty instruments? Indifferent administration? That's
not enough to even get my attention. I'd read one report in which the
inspectors asked the staff to demonstrate that the emergency generator
was functioning properly. The generator caught fire. I'd seen reports of dogs in clinics, bloody bare mattresses, drunken abortionists falling on the floor. So Moshe Hachamovitch's little abortion mill didn't stand out for its flaws.
Then there was the case of the patient whose death had brought on the
inspection. She was identified as 15-year-old "J.G." That was a bad one.
It was always hard to read details on a death, but dead kids get to me.
I have a daughter myself.
"J.G." had her abortion performed by John Coleman* at Hachamovitch's A
to Z abortion facility on February 18, 1994. Four days later, on
February 23, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a Houston
hospital, with spiking fever, chills, nausea, pain, respiratory
distress, a distended abdomen, low blood oxygen levels, and
foul-smelling discharge. An examination revealed inflammation and a tear
in her cervix.
This was all tragic, very sad, but again, typical for what I'd see in an
abortion death. I dutifully wrote up the case while Mona tried to get
She got a copy of the autopsy report.
When I hear about how we need legal abortion to prevent those horrible
back-alley abortions, I can see Mona and me sitting and reading that
autopsy report. Mona came across the hall with Jammie's autopsy report
in one hand, and another autopsy report in another. She wanted me to
really grasp how swollen and boggy Jammie's organs were. Jammie's liver
and lungs weighed twice what they should have weighed.
Then Mona and I sat down together and read the rest of the autopsy
report. By the time we were done, we were both crying, telling each
other, "She was unconscious by then. She had to have been unconscious."
Please, God, let her have been unconscious.
Jammie's body was wracked with abscesses, spreading infection that had
entered her body through the damage the abortion had done to her uterus.
Her brain was swollen. As near as Mona and I could figure, Jammie's
fetid fluids had made their way up through her damaged bowels and into
Nobody's little girl should have to die that way.
I'm sorry, but nobody can convince me that Jammie's death was an
improvement on the old back-alley abortions. No drunken, trenchcoat-clad
pervert with a rusty coathanger could have done more damage, could have
killed her any more horribly.
I will never understand the stubborn instance that when a pregnant woman
faces challenges, somebody has to die. Why? Why, with so many adoptive
homes for her child, did Jammie have to die? Why, with so many prolife
pregnancy centers standing by to help her, did Jammie have to die?
Abortion laws didn't kill Jammie Garcia. An abortionist did. Does the
fact that he did it in a legally operating "clinic," with medical
instruments instead of with a coathanger, make her any less dead?
Abortion advocate dismiss girls like Jammie. "These things happen," they shrug. "All surgery has risks."
Why does that not comfort me? Or, perhaps more to the point, why would
it comfort anybody? Why is that good enough for the self-appointed
guardians of girls like Jammie?
Women -- and little girls like Jammie Garcia -- will continue to die, as
long as they continue to perceive abortion as an escape. And they will
continue to perceive it as an escape as long as there is a
multi-million-dollar advertising campaign shouting from the rooftops the
wonders and benefits of safe-n-legal abortion.
The way to end the horrible abortion deaths isn't to make excuses for the abortionists who kill girls like Jammie. The way to end the horrible abortion deaths isn't to promote abortion -- it's to end abortion.
And the way to end abortion is to start caring about the women more
than about politics. Abortion needs to be feared, dreaded, shunned,
recoiled from, rejected, not held up as a right and celebrated. And we
need to start thinking less about lifestyles of the rich and famous, and
more of the life of the mother.
*I have since learned that Coleman was so sickly that he himself died on
the day of Jammie's funeral. ("28 lawsuits name abortion clinic owner,"
Arizona Daily Star, January 18, 1999)
patients are known to have died either under Hachamovitch's direct care
or under the care of an employe at one of his clinics.
This young woman
was inadequately monitored in recovery and allowed to lapse into
respiratory arrest. She died on in September of 1996
Allowed to bleed to death in 1986 under Hachamovitch's direct care in the Bronx.
Hachamovitch brought her to his office at 4 a.m. to treat grave complications.She died in October of 1990.
Bled to death on the way home from her safe, legal abortion at one of Hachamovitch's facilities in Arizona in 1995.
Lou Anne Herron
Her pleas for help went unheeded as she bled to death in Hachamovitch's Arizona abortion clinic in 1998.