December 3rd, 2007

Dr. Don

Dr. Don, a physician in Colorado in the 1960s:

As for the attitudes of the medical community toward these women who got coat hanger abortions, it’s not that the doctors were judgmental or hostile as much as they were kind of contemptuous. The attitude was “How could these women do anything so stupid as to get a dangerous abortion?” or “Why would any smart person take such a stupid chance?” I don’t recall any discussion about the need to provide women with safer options.

I have no idea how many years it covered, but the pathology department at that municipal hospital had a rather large collection of jars of preserved organs that had been removed for one reason or another. Many of the Organs were uteruses with the abortion instrument still in place. Some of the instruments were knitting needles, and some were coat hangers, and there they were, neatly labeled and lined up, each floating in its jar of formaldehyde.

….I wonder if those bottles are still there. If they are, I wonder if today’s medical students understand what they mean. Coat hangers and knitting needles probably seem very strange to them. They must wonder even more tan we did twenty five years ago, “why would any women take such a chance?” I don’t know why, but I know a lot of them did.