Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Abortionist Hagiography

Amy Welborn has the loving LA Times profile of Dr. William F. Harrison. At 2,100 words, it's a pretty fair-sized devotion for a newspaper. It is, I'm afraid, more horrifying than you could even imagine:
Now 70, Harrison estimates he's terminated at least 20,000 pregnancies. . . .

Harrison warns every patient he sees that abortion may be illegal one day. He wants to stir them to activism, but most women respond mildly.

"I can't imagine the country coming to that," says Kim, 35, in for her second abortion in two years. . . .

He calls himself an "abortionist" and says, "I am destroying life."

But he also feels he's giving life: He calls his patients "born again."

"When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has literally been given her life back," he says. . . .

His Fayetteville Women's Clinic occupies a once-elegant home dating to the 1940s; the first-floor surgery looks like it was a parlor. Thick blue curtains block the windows and paintings of butterflies and flowers hang on the walls. The radio is tuned to an easy-listening station.

An 18-year-old with braces on her teeth is on the operating table, her head on a plaid pillow, her feet up in stirrups, her arms strapped down at her sides. A pink blanket is draped over her stomach. She's 13 weeks pregnant, at the very end of the first trimester. She hasn't told her parents.

A nurse has already given her a local anesthetic, Valium and a drug to dilate her cervix; Harrison prepares to inject Versed, a sedative, in her intravenous line. The drug will wipe out her memory of everything that happens during the 20 minutes she's in the operating room. It's so effective that patients who return for a follow-up exam often don't recognize Harrison.

The doctor is wearing a black turtleneck, brown slacks and tennis shoes. He snaps his gum as he checks the monitors displaying the patient's pulse rate and oxygen count.

"This is not going to be nearly as hard as you anticipate," he tells her.

She smiles wanly. Keeping up a constant patter — he asks about her brothers, her future birth control plans, whether she's good at tongue twisters — Harrison pulls on sterile gloves.

"How're you doing up there?" he asks.

"Doing OK."

"Good girl."

Harrison glances at an ultrasound screen frozen with an image of the fetus taken moments before. Against the fuzzy black-and-white screen, he sees the curve of a head, the bend of an elbow, the ball of a fist.

"You may feel some cramping while we suction everything out," Harrison tells the patient. . . .

When he's done, Harrison performs another ultrasound. The screen this time is blank but for the contours of the uterus. "We've gotten everything out of there," he says. . . .

For the few women who arrive ambivalent or beset by guilt, Harrison's nurse has posted statistics on the exam-room mirror: One out of every four pregnant women in the U.S. chooses abortion. A third of all women in this country will have at least one abortion by the time they're 45.

"You think there's room in hell for all those women?" the nurse will ask. . . .

Amanda, a 20-year-old administrative assistant, says it's not the obstacles that surprise her — it's how normal and unashamed she feels as she prepares to end her first pregnancy.

"It's an everyday occurrence," she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. "It's not like this is a rare thing."

Amanda hasn't told her ex-boyfriend that she's 15 weeks pregnant with his child. She hasn't told her parents, either, though she lives with them.

"I figured it was my responsibility," she says.

She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. "It's not like it's illegal. It's not like I'm doing anything wrong," she says. . . .

His first patient of the day, Sarah, 23, says it never occurred to her to use birth control, though she has been sexually active for six years. When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. "I don't think my dress would have fit with a baby in there," she says. . . .

The last patient of the day, a 32-year-old college student named Stephanie, has had four abortions in the last 12 years. She keeps forgetting to take her birth control pills. Abortion "is a bummer," she says, "but no big stress."

Harrison does not get frustrated with such patients.

He has learned to focus on the facts he considers most important: This woman does not want to be pregnant. He can give her back control of her life and keep a child from coming into the world unwanted. He believes in this so strongly, he waives his fees for women who can't come up with the money.

20 comments:

Mary Eileen said...

This reminds me of Hannah Arendt's phrase about the banality of evil.

"It's an everyday occurrence."

"My dress wouldn't have fit with a baby in there."

"Abortion is a bummer but no big stress."

Could there be a more thoughtless approach to the taking of a human life?

Anonymous said...

You have to believe that the "matter" being removed actually is a human being. That's where communication about abortion breaks down. Abortion providers and porponents don't believe that a fetus has a soul and is valued by a power higher than themselves. As long as they don't recognize the fetus as a human being, destroying it carries no moral weight at all.

Bizarro Jack said...

That was not a loving hagiography.

Anonymous said...

whoa, it takes quite a bit to make me physically ill, but that excerpt did the trick. One does not have to believe in an immortal soul to believe that abortion is the destruction of life and that all human life has some inherent value. The doc quite clearly believes he is killing a human, but he feels no regret since he believes he is saving a more valuable life in the process. He's wrong, and he's an admitted murderer, but at least he's honest.

Tommy said...

Abortion providers and porponents don't believe that a fetus has a soul and is valued by a power higher than themselves. As long as they don't recognize the fetus as a human being, destroying it carries no moral weight at all.

That doesn't quite square with this:

He calls himself an "abortionist" and says, "I am destroying life."

Anonymous said...

Oh, there's room in hell. Or at least a good long wait in Purgatory.

Anonymous said...

I've commented on many things, but that article leaves me speechless. One can only hope for inevitable collapse of the MSM to be delivered to us soon. May God forgive us.

GrannyGrump said...

"Hagiography" is the right word. They tried so hard to paint a glowing picture of this kindly, grandfatherly abortionist. But his patients aren't exactly a sympathetic lot, are they?

Bizarro Jack said...

This is not glowing at all. Who cares that his home is no longer elegant? This gum-snapping man who fails to get frustrated when the author assumes that he ought to. It's pretty much "just the facts" and just because the author didn't say anything about wanting to bomb the place doesn't make it a puff piece.

Anonymous said...

It's silly to criticize the Times for giving the man so much rope when all he did was hang himself with it.

Anonymous said...

What a degrading read. Men are always singled out for being thoughtlessly violent, but in this respect women show that they are not so innocent.

kwAwk said...

I read the entire piece at the LA times, but didn't come way with the impression that they were trying to make the old man look like a saint.

It is interesting how the sampled piece that appears here neglects to mention that the doctor refuses to conduct 3rd trimester abortions. See, nobody is completely evil.

Jay D. Homnick said...

The killing itself is quite disturbing. But there is one piece to this story that is an absolute insult to all humanity. A rape of the mind and the heart and the soul.

I'm referring to this nurse whose job is to show girls how common abortion is and to say that "there cannot possibly be room in Hell for all those people." It is hard to imagine a more offensive piece of arrant nonsense.

I'll expand on this over at The Reform Club.

Anonymous said...

In response to kwawk's comment. Why does he "draw the line" at third trimester abortions? Does he believe it is murder then or is the procedure more risky and he doesn't want to take that on? Does the article elaborate on this?

epinionated2005@gmail.com said...

I remember, thanks to a copy of "The Woven Figure", a column by our beloved George F'in Will on this topic from ten years ago. (June 15, 1995)

Melissa Drexler's prom. You can find the column here: http://www.lifeadvocate.org/9_97/comment2.htm

Some excerpts:
According to a friend, 18-year-old Melissa Drexler paused in front of the mirror in the bathroom to touch up her makeup before rejoining her date on the dance floor at the prom. She had just tossed her 6-pound, 6-ounce baby boy into a trash bin next to the bloodstained stall in the bathroom where she had given birth. "She seemed to be enjoying herself," said a classmate about Drexler's postpartum dancing....

Drexler may be charged with something. Maybe murder. Maybe endangering a child. (Maybe conducting a partial-birth abortion at a prom without a license?)....

She has grown up in a society that does not stress deferral of gratification, and it's not her fault that the baby arrived during the prom, for Pete's sake. She has come of age in a society where condom-dispensing schools teach sex education in the modern manner, which has been well-described as plumbing for hedonists. If she is like millions of other young adults, she has spent thousands of hours watching movies and television programs not designed to suggest that sexuality has morally complex dimensions and serious consequences. If she is like millions of other young adults, she has pumped into her ears thousands of hours of coarsening lyrics of popular music. And she certainly has grown up in a social atmosphere saturated with opinion leaders' collaboration with the political program of reducing abortion to a mere "choice," like choosing to smoke a cigarette....

However, foremost among the moral tutors who prepared Drexler to act as she did is the Supreme Court. By pretending in Roe v. Wade not to know when life begins, the Court encouraged looking away from the stark fact that abortion kills something. Ignoring elementary science, the Court said, preposterously, that a fetus is "potential life."....

Read it and weep.

kwAwk said...

The doctor feels that in the third trimester is when the baby becomes able to survive on its own outside of them mother. Thus I guess he deems that the point when the fetus becomes a life of its own.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....

Destroy a Bald Eagle embryo and go to jail.

Destroy a Human embryo and receive $750.

kwAwk said...

Talk about comparing apples to oranges. Lets think about this. Bald Eagles are an endangered species. That is the reason one might go to jail for destroying an embryo. It is not based upon a moral directive from on high that bald eagle embryo's are sacred and thus destroying them is evil.

Now when it becomes illegal to make an omlet and thus destroy chicken embryos then maybe you'll actually have an arguement.

Bizarro Jack said...

A random dude who destroys a bald eagle egg (without even being asked to . . .) goes to jail, not the eagle that laid the egg. I think if a bald eagle paid you to destroy its eggs, you may just have a case for appeal, especially if the health of the mother bald eagle was at risk.

Lawjedi said...

Making abortion easy...easy like Sunday Morning.

This is how seared their consciences have become--death is a tool of convenience. The only problem is that if the baby were on the other side of the uterus, killing him/her for convenience would be murder.