The last few days I have had a lot of hits on an older post, Anatomy of a Coat Hanger Abortion. From time to time older posts resurface in searches due to a relevant news story. So yes, you know where this is sadly going.
A woman in Tennessee tried to terminate her pregnancy with a coat hanger. She was apparently around 24 weeks gestation. When she started bleeding profusely, an expected complication of thrusting a sharp object blindly into the vagina, she called her boyfriend and ended up in a hospital.
The reports are unclear as to whether she went into labor or was delivered for medical reasons as a result of the home instrumentation (the timeline between her attempt at abortion and delivery isn’t mentioned that I can find), but the local news media reported that the infant weight 1.5 lbs and required intensive care. There is mention of injuries and long-term complications for the infant, however, given how this was reported it is unclear to me what exactly is a complication due to extreme prematurity and what is from the actual attempt at a home abortion.
Instead of recoiling at the horror that the restrictive laws of Tennessee, might have driven a woman to such desperation where she almost died trying to end her pregnancy by herself Anna Yocca is being indicated on attempted murder charges.
To get an abortion in Tennessee a woman must receive state-directed counseling and then wait 48 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, so two separate trips to the facility are needed. 63% of women in Tennessee live in a county with no abortion provider. Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act may not provide coverage of abortion.
So in addition to the money for the procedure a woman must have the gas money to go twice. If Ms. Yocca lives in Murfreesboro she would have been about 35 miles from the closest clinic, about a 45 minute drive.
Before abortion was legal women were maimed by dirty equipment and unskilled providers. Some died from perforated bowels or infections and the lucky ones survived. No one talks about the survivors being jailed. I have spoken to numerous physicians who removed necrotic colons and drained abscesses from women desperate enough to go to some filthy excuse for a medical office or the back room at someone’s house and not one of those physicians spoke about detectives waiting to question the women.
But now 37 states have the potential to bring another horror on women desperate enough to try to end their pregnancy, jail time.
I never thought I would hear of a coat hanger abortion in my medical life. I’ve seen the consequences of shoddy, cut rate procedures and saved the lives of women who have had organs perforated by unskilled hands. I’ve heard of women resorting to misoprostol at home, but coat hangers?Surely never?!
Well never again is upon us and it is horrific. Now women don’t have to just worry if they will live or die as they plunge a sharp object into their uterus, they have to worry if they survive will they end up in jail.
And so the next time some desperate women does something like this, because there will be a next time, the odds have just gone up that she will bleed to death on her bathroom floor.