you're reading...
abortion, Uncategorized

Anatomy of a coat hanger abortion

The coat hanger isn’t sterile. It isn’t even clean.

If the woman, or girl, is alone she thrusts it blindly upwards into the vagina. She’s hoping it will get into her uterus and do something. She may or may not know that to get into the uterus the coat hanger has to navigate the small opening in the cervix called the os.

A coat hanger is technically narrow enough to get through a pregnant cervical os, but the end is sharp not tapered so it can lacerate and perforate. Getting any instrument through the cervix safely also requires visualization and knowledge of the correct amount of force.

If she’s lucky enough to get the coat hanger through her cervix it could easily sail right through the back or side walls of the uterus. The uterine wall is soft and easily perforated with the wrong instrument or unskilled hands. If the uterus is perforated on one of the sides there is a high risk of lacerating a uterine artery, as that is where they are located. If this happens a woman who is by herself could easily bleed to death before she gets appropriate medical care. These arteries pump a lot of blood.

The other danger with uterine perforation is the bowel. Puncturing bowel will hurt, but depending on her level of fear it might only be enough to cry out but not to ask for help. However, within the next 3 days the bowel perforation will most certainly kill her unless she gets appropriate medical care. That care will likely involve major surgery to drain abscesses, remove necrotic bowel, and possibly even a colostomy. The uterus will also be infected and may be damaged beyond repair.

If she was lucky and got that rough end of the coat hanger in and out of her cervix without puncturing something it is unlikely she will induce an abortion immediately. In this scenario the coat hanger is really just a vector for introducing infection. In 2-3 days or so she will cramp, and if fortunate her uterus will contract and she will pass the tissue at home. However, the bacteria from septic abortions often disseminates and each hour the condition remains untreated death takes a step closer. If she gets to the hospital in time and they can empty her uterus without killing her and she doesn’t have a resistant bacteria and she isn’t in septic shock and is otherwise healthy she will survive. That’s a lot of variables.

The coat hanger might miss the cervix altogether and puncture the top of the vagina. It could also hit the uterine arteries from this angle and likewise still devastate the bowel.

If the coat hanger is used by someone else, they may or may not get it through the cervix. Same risks of perforation and laceration, because a skilled operator would never use a coat hanger. However, not everyone would know that and some are too desperate to care. The medical sequelae are therefore all essentially the same, with one exception. The type of people who offer coat hanger abortions may also sexually assault their victim, because really, who’s going to report them to the police?

If you are going to joke about coat hangers and abortion you should know exactly what you are joking about.

About these ads


44 thoughts on “Anatomy of a coat hanger abortion

  1. what can i say, you nailed it as usual JG!

    Posted by SOMA Madman (@SOMAMadman) | July 13, 2013, 12:58 pm
  2. shines the light on what “pro-life” really means.

    Posted by SOMA Madman (@SOMAMadman) | July 13, 2013, 1:01 pm
    • “Shines the light” on why safe, legal abortion should continue to be available to all who request it. To have to rely on Do-It-Yourself abortion methods absent safe, medically-assisted abortion availability is equivalent to advocating mass murder on an entire group of otherwise healthy woman, wanting only to exercise their government mandated right to choose. Who are the real murderers here?

      Posted by Harlee | July 21, 2013, 6:05 pm
    • women are supposed to suffer according to religious men and women keep buying into it. So a woman who dies this way is just showing their rather ugly god’s will. that guy is like a 12 year old spoiled boy! And the same people who would stand aside and love watching her die,will tell you that its god’s will and sex is evil! WE women need to work on getting the a Reproductive Rights act passed!

      Posted by cindy ridgway | July 31, 2013, 7:58 am
  3. I just finished the summer pre-matriculation program at the UIC College of Medicine and we did a little bit of reproductive physiology and histology. Egad, like you wrote here, there’s just so much that could go wrong with a coat-hanger abortion. I don’t understand how this could be a laughing matter for anyone.

    Posted by kungfurubikscube | July 13, 2013, 1:15 pm
  4. I’m old enough to remember the horrid ways women used to abort their unwanted pregnancies. I can’t believe this discussion is happening. Women can not be made to procreate in order to prevent the demographic shift in our country.

    Posted by sass (@sassym) | July 13, 2013, 1:54 pm
  5. Way back in the dark ages, my plan for an unwanted pregnancy involved liquid drain cleaner.
    Their schemes aren’t really about loving babies, anyway. If it was, they wouldn’t be cutting aid and food for poor children. It’s more about Planned Parenthood providing a lot of low cost medical care. Big money health care facilities want that business and the profits that come with it. The GOP caring about people? I don’t think so. It’s about the money.
    On another facet of this issue: If I were to find out that the fetus growing in my womb was horribly deformed, who are these people to tell me that I must force my child to be born into it? Spiritually, I believe it is more loving to tell my child, “Wait. Let me try again to form a body that will serve you well before you come into my life.” I resent being forced to practice their religion.

    Posted by Diane Barnes | July 13, 2013, 2:30 pm
  6. “pass the tissue”

    You mean the baby, right?

    Posted by Becky | July 13, 2013, 5:39 pm
    • Based on the dozens of D&C’s/ERPC’s I did for incomplete abortions (ie spontaneous miscarriages that weren’t going well all by themselves) when I was an obstetric resident for six months as part of a general practice residency, I’d say ’tissue’ is a far better descriptor than ‘baby’. Red spongy stuff halfway between lung and liver in both texture and colour. I’m assuming you have some sort of agenda from your comment, and the only reason in your mind that backstreet-style terminations shouldn’t happen is that a ‘baby’ is involved? The only appropriate reply is that I’m glad you have never found yourself pregnant and desperate with this as the only option. It has been 37 years since I started medical school, and I have delivered babies, terminated pregnancies, provided contraception and advised a host of weeping teens (and more than a few older women in the same boat). I am truly unimpressed with the utility of simplistic bronze-age desert tribal cultural norms for dealing with all these troubles.


      Posted by Lancelot Gobbo | July 14, 2013, 7:31 am
      • They always have an agenda.

        Notice – not a word about the girl or woman risking her life, no horror expressed at necrotic bowel, peritonitis, agonising death from septic shock. Nah, that would involve thinking of women as more than just ambulatory incubators.

        All you get is the inference that the products of conception are fully realised humans deserving of respect and compassion, that the tissue be referred to as a “baby” (which is just… lol. I’m imagining the conceptus in a onesie and a bonnet!), that the potential life is of greater importance than the living, loved, sentient woman it’s implanted in.

        Posted by Boostick | July 15, 2013, 8:54 am
      • I’m with Boostick, It’s an obvious agenda statement. Nothing about the woman, nothing about the constitutionally protected right to choose, nothing about the fact that it’s no one’s damn business what a woman does with her own body.
        Too many folks would rather wave that black leather bound book than sit and read where their god kills more ‘babies’ than any human possibly could. Never mind the fact that over 50% of conceptions end in miscarriage before the woman even knows she’s pregnant.

        Go away Becky, I hope you never end up counting days and sobbing while your husband beats you for getting knocked up by him.

        Posted by Slightly Twysted | July 29, 2013, 3:26 pm
      • What amuses me about the replies you received is that people think “oh, THEY always have an agenda. But we’re being reasonable, rational, impartial, and unbiased.” Not surprisingly, that’s how the other side views many of you.
        The description of what happens with coat hanger attempts at abortion is horrifying and graphic, and rightly so. It’s eye opening to those who might not consider the ramifications of their attempts at changing policies. Well, maybe. I hope it is.
        For many of us, an equally in-depth and accurate description of what happens to the “tissue” during a proper, safe, careful abortion is just as horrifying and ghastly as what is written in this post. It’s not an agenda to me, it’s the thought of a human being at an early stage of development being carved up into pieces and sucked out with a glorified vacuum cleaner. I have a hard time getting behind that due to my sense that humans – all humans – are precious and valuable.
        A good solid description of the effects of poverty and lack of reliable care – or even better, time spent in person interacting with people living in those conditions – that would be a very important experience to hopefully change the hearts of many who are willing to cut aid to those in need while failing to provide the additional private charity to make up for the loss. I’ve ministered to people in Third World conditions with very little access to resources. It changes your understanding of what’s important in life.
        Even so, I struggle to accept the idea that we should terminate pregnancies for fear that life might be hard. To me, that’s not much different than saying we could terminate infants after birth (within a “reasonable” timeframe) if we think they’re going to have it hard or if we realize they’re not really wanted. Slippery slope fallacy? I guess, except people are already seriously advancing that argument.
        Some folk, on BOTH sides, are all about an agenda, sure. But broad-brush painting the entire opposition does nothing to advance helpful dialogue or persuade others to your side. Blanket judgments and assumptions aren’t going to make your case. Don’t treat me like an idiot simply because I disagree. Show me why you’re right. Show me why abortions are a necessary evil (as this post attempts to do).
        Otherwise, you might as well stop talking, because you’re not helping anyone.

        Posted by sonworshiper | July 29, 2013, 9:46 pm
      • The only reason you would say “tissue” is to convince yourself it’s not really a human life in the early stages, a life that should be valued and protected. They have arms, legs, a heart, a brain, a spinal cord… Sounds like a baby.

        Let’s remove all steak knives from store shelves and all homes, while we are at it. Because desperate people, depressed people, drugged out people… they use them to hurt themselves.

        Look: I NEVER fault a woman for wanting to have an abortion, and there will always be options available for someone who feels desperate. Having a baby is scary, life-changing, and some just are not ready for it. There are clinics and doctors everywhere who will perform an abortion, and regardless of that fact, there will still be the occasional person who feels so desperate and emotional they just want to get things over with and will be unsafe about it. Duh.

        But, I do fault Planned Parenthood at least 95% of the time, because that is how much they *advocate for abortion*. It’s RARE that they ever counsel or encourage a female of any age to think about keeping the baby, or giving the baby to a family desperate for a baby who would give that child a good life and home. I fault the Democrat party for making this a political issue at all, and manipulating women, and men, through ridiculous fear tactics.

        Don’t want to have a baby? Don’t have sex. Be responsible. God will hold ALL men and women accountable for every abortion they have willingly supported or encouraged, and especially performed. Don’t think He approves, will remain silent on this issue, will know your heart and just overlook it, or won’t comment about the blood on the hands of everyone who continues to keep making this such an issue to begin with. That’s not me: that’s the truth about God.

        Personally, I think it’s the female’s choice. But, she has to know that God will not just look away from it and forget. Repent and seek God while He may still be found.

        I didn’t start out to write all of this, but this generation of abortion gung-ho people need to be told.

        Posted by jemtree | July 30, 2013, 1:07 am
      • “But, I do fault Planned Parenthood at least 95% of the time, because that is how much they *advocate for abortion*.”

        Planned Parenthood does a lot more than abortion or advocate for abortion. I believe you must have heard this from some slanted source like Fox News.

        Abortion accounts for about 3% of the services provide by Planned Parenthood. They spend a lot more of their time providing contraceptive information.

        The agenda being pushed by a lot of the “pro-life” crowd includes stopping any useful sex education too. That doesnt’ make sense if it was really about stopping abortions. Good sex education and easily available contraception would make sense for that goal.

        It’s about controlling women. Notice that none of the anti-abortion laws have penalties for the male involved in this conception.

        Posted by Trylak | July 30, 2013, 10:20 am
    • No, the fetus.

      Posted by Nancy | March 25, 2014, 5:05 am
  7. Thank you for witing this. I highly doubt that it will have any impact on the likes of Erick Ericson, but it’s important that this information is out there.

    That man,by the way, is absolutely evil, disgusting, and not at all representative of all Christians (as I assume that’s his big reason for being so

    Posted by Ashlee | July 13, 2013, 6:47 pm
  8. Gruesome reading but should be known to everyone just what so called prolife advocates are wishing upon women. Thank you.

    Posted by Dee | July 14, 2013, 9:34 am
  9. If anyone is stupid enough to believe that cramming a coat hanger up their vagina is a good idea… Then it probably is cause they’re obviously not smart enough to raise a child either.

    Posted by Ashley | July 16, 2013, 6:39 pm
    • People don’t always do the ‘smart’ thing when desperate.

      Don’t be such a judgmental ass.

      Posted by Mera | July 17, 2013, 9:12 am
    • Desperate people with no options do desperate things. And it’s not so stupid, really. The insertion of a tool into the uterus to scrape out its contents is the most primitive and obvious way of performing an abortion, and coat hangers (and similar household tools often used for self-abortions or home abortions) are readily available, sufficiently rigid to do the job while simultaneously malleable to shape into a tool, and easily disposed of. It’s ingenious, really. Deadly and not anything anyone should ever feel forced to do, but there are far worse things done in the name of maintaining one’s life, every single day.

      Posted by Alleyne | July 17, 2013, 9:27 am
    • Well you apparently manage to breathe and type at the same time, so there’s hope for everybody, isn’t there?

      Women forced into carrying on an unwanted pregnancy and giving birth to a child they do not want are not stupid, they’re desperate.

      How would you feel if you were facing what amounted to a ten month assault on your body? What about the genital pain and tearing that lasts hours, even days – sound fun to you? If the thought of ten months of slavery to a parasitic entity, legislated into existence by a mob of power-hungry, god-bothering, woman-hating bastards sounds like fun to you, then you’re clearly in need of therapy.

      Fear and desperation drives people to a lot worse than DIY abortion.

      Posted by neverdefiled | July 17, 2013, 6:50 pm
    • Sometimes, doing stupid things is the only available option. Sometimes, women don’t HAVE access to a safe method.

      Posted by J. Metaneira | July 29, 2013, 11:20 am
  10. The town I live in used to have two abortionists. One, who started her medical practice in 1912 and practiced until 1954, was a much respected citizen. Yes, everyone knew she performed abortions but she also provided healthcare, birth control (such as it existed) and arranged private adoptions, depending on what was best for the woman. Every doctor in town knew about her practice and were grateful to, especially the surgeons who had to clean up after the botched abortions. She was honored many times, on local, state, and a national level, for her efforts to provide healthcare for women in a rural area. Her name is remembered with fondness and honor today.
    The other one, a man, was eventually prosecuted for tax evasion because he didn’t care about the women or the consequences, just the money.
    Making abortion illegal doesn’t make it go away. It just punishes women for daring to have sex without male permission and for trying to make their own decisions about their own lives.

    Posted by Amorette Allison | July 18, 2013, 12:28 pm
  11. Reblogged this on asalwayschristine and commented:
    making abortion illegal will not stop abortions. It only stops SAFE abortions.

    Posted by asalwayschristine | July 20, 2013, 6:55 pm
  12. Why does it have to be a coat hanger? a catheter works just as well.

    Posted by Caitlin Williams | July 21, 2013, 12:44 pm
    • More women would have access to coat hangers than catheters.

      BUT I think it would be a lot better if women didn’t need to consider hangers or catheters or anything like that. I hope they would have economic and legal access to contraception, knowledge of how to use it properly, self-esteem and self-worth, supportive friends/family, safe and respectful partner(s)…and if somehow a woman ends up with a pregnancy can’t have for whatever reason (economic or medical or wrong time or whatever the reason), then she should be able to access safe, legal, affordable care and be treated respectfully and with kindness. Without “pro-life” protesters screaming at her and shoving graphic pictures at her on the walk in to the doctor’s office. Without self-appointed gynoticians legislating safe abortion out of her reach. Without pseudo-clinics tricking her or lying to her in order to force birth.

      Posted by brittany | July 29, 2013, 6:03 pm
    • because most desperate women don’t have a catheter at home. A knitting needle was a common alternative.

      Posted by Cassandra M. A. Love | July 29, 2013, 10:35 pm
  13. Reblogged this on TheZoo and commented:
    This is what the anti-choice crowd is creating for women all over this country. Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they guarantee unsafe abortions.

    Posted by Zooey | July 29, 2013, 5:32 pm
  14. Reblogged this on They Need To Go and commented:
    Good read for those who don’t know what desperation can look like.

    Posted by They Need To Go | July 29, 2013, 6:09 pm
  15. We women had better be thinking of a Plan B (no pun intended) if these Christianist wackos get their way. Can women be taught to help perform abortions if we need to? We need an underground railroad, of sorts, We need a network that can assist other women, without the knowledge of the political and legal establishment.
    It seems as if it will come to this, as I see the religious propaganda working on young women everywhere.

    Posted by Melanie Yacobucci | July 29, 2013, 7:11 pm
  16. So explain this to me Libby; why is it that Pro-choice women always say “keep the government off my body” and similar crap when Obamacare has it’s hands all over the rest of a woman’s bodies now that it’s here? Please explain oh wise one,,,,, #hippocrite

    Posted by Jim Fortner (@Millennial_Jobs) | October 1, 2013, 2:05 pm
    • I am pro choice and I hate obamacare. I am not a liberal nor am I conservative. I believe in the state, federal government and religious groups minding their own damned business. My physical body and the foods i choose to put into it, what I allow in my uterus and anything just me are none of their or your business. Somehow they all think otherwise. I will have sex and I will be careful and unless something is terribly wrong I wouldnt get an abortion. I like sex and there is nothing wrong with that. I wont tell another what they should do with their body. Every woman should have easy access to contraceptives. Nothing wrong with keeping yourself safe and not contribute to the over population of the world and to the many children in foster care. The only reason why this is even in discussion is because of religious and patriarchal morons who cant give up that sex isnt something dirty or unclean. That a woman who has and/or enjoys sex with one man or a number of men are somehow sluts when a man who sleeps around and even unfaithful are not. Double standard and way beyond bs. I guess some of us were endowed by our creator with more sense and believe me you arent one of them. Also using the word ‘libby’ as a nickname for liberal is childish. If you cant use your big boy words you can just stay stay seated at the kiddy table.

      Posted by brandi | October 9, 2013, 1:21 am
  17. Reblogged this on Feminism & Football and commented:
    With SCOTUS hearing Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius today, remembering what access to birth control means is key. This is not about religious freedom, this is about a systemic punishment of women and their sexuality. When birth control and abortion are made illegal, unintended pregnancies and abortion do not cease to exist; rather, the continue with back alley abortion and unnecessary death of women. SCOTUS must stand up for women’s rights to access medical care, regardless of her employers personal religious convictions.

    Posted by Feminism&Football | March 24, 2014, 9:22 pm
  18. Thank you, Dr. Gunter, for this gruesome reminder of what was used for self-induced abortion by very desperate women in the past before abortion was legal in the U.S. I just don’t understand people who want to go back to that time. As mentioned in many of the comments, there will never be no abortions — never! Let’s keep them legal and safe.

    Posted by bri65 | March 25, 2014, 8:15 pm
  19. Reblogged this on Dead Wild Roses and commented:
    Dear Pro-Life Assholes, this is what you’re campaigning for and it makes you horrible people.

    Posted by The Arbourist | March 26, 2014, 9:18 am
  20. Wow. I haven’t seen it written quite like this, makes it even more terrifying. Thanks for the post.

    Posted by AmandaM | March 26, 2014, 11:16 am


  1. Pingback: The end is sharp not tapered » Butterflies and Wheels - July 13, 2013

  2. Pingback: Back Alleys, Coat Hangers | Release. - July 15, 2013

  3. Pingback: The Last Abortion Clinic | Everysaturdaymorning's Blog - July 31, 2013

  4. Pingback: Anatomy of a coat hanger abortion | Feminism & Football - March 24, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Recent Tweets


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 779 other followers

%d bloggers like this: