I began a long and successful nursing career in 1970. As a new graduate I was employed in an emergency department in a fairly poor district of a medium sized town. Abortion at that time was illegal. Illegal but still performed.
Abortions were performed by unlicensed and poorly trained men and women. They were performed by nameless and faceless individuals who were breaking the law. They were preformed in horrific environments.
They were preformed on kitchen tables with poor lighting and no resemblance of cleanliness. They were performed with whatever instruments were available to the abortionists. They were preformed with wire coat hangers and serving spoons.
Abortions were performed on terrified women who had no option other than a back alley abortion. They were performed on women without the benefit of anesthesia. They were performed on women with no follow up planned. They were performed on women who received the only instruction was that if the bleeding didn’t stop to go to the hospital.
I remember the women who lost their lives because the bleeding didn’t stop. I remember the women who had emergency hysterectomies due to such horrible damage caused by the abortionist. I remember the women who were critically ill from septic shock who succumbed to the infection. I remember the families shattered from the loss of a loved one due to a botched abortion.
Our choice now is, as a civilized society, do we return to the 1970s or do we offer women the respect and autonomy they deserve? If a woman chooses abortion do we trust that she is making the best choice for herself and her loved ones? If a woman chooses abortion do we offer her an environment that is safe, warm and caring? If a woman chooses abortion does she deserve ethical and highly trained professionals? If a woman chooses abortion do we offer her appropriate follow-up care to avoid complications and address them if they should occur?
Abortions will continue to be done. The differences between the procedure of the 1970s and the procedures performed in the 2020s are alarmingly apparent.
Our choice is what do women actually deserve?
– Deborah Craven
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