Women frequently ask questions like, “Can you tell what sex it is?” “How big is it?” “Does the doctor cut the cord?” “What happens to the fetus once the abortion is finished?” These questions are normal. Most women have a mental image of the fetus; they want to compare their image to reality. In a few cases, women have asked to see the tissue. My experience with this has been very positive — the women’s mental image is almost always scarier and more disturbing than reality. For some women, the motivation is curiosity; for others, I believe it is a way to say good-bye to this pregnancy. Women often ask these more graphic questions in an apologetic tone, afraid their questions are morbid or strange. I see these questions as part of the process and hope all providers meet these questions with respect and an affirming attitude.
The “tissue” really is a torn apart baby, and at nine weeks of pregnancy (seven weeks after conception) or later, these remains contain tiny arms and legs with fingers and toes. In an early abortion, the baby is so tiny that it’s easy to miss these recognizable pieces unless the remains are strained and carefully separated from the placenta and other uterine material. This may be the reason why a woman’s “mental image” could be scarier than what she sees.
It’s not hard to imagine that these questions, which Lynne V considers “normal,” are in fact signs of ambivalence. David Reardon conducted a survey of post-abortive women who regretted their abortions. Forty to sixty percent were unsure of whether or not to go through with the abortion before the counseling session at the abortion clinic. Forty-four percent stated that they were “actively hoping to find an option other than abortion during counseling.” How a woman is counseled can make a big difference in whether or not she goes through with an abortion. While many women come to an abortion clinic dead-set on having an abortion, some are still deeply ambivalent. Every year, sidewalk counselors, who talk to women going into abortion clinics and sometimes hand them pro-life literature, convince hundreds of women not to have their scheduled abortions.
Does knowing the gender of her aborted baby bring a woman peace or lead to regrets? She will know whether she killed her son or daughter. In fact, Lynne V doesn’t specify how she answers that question. Does she answer honestly? Does she say it’s too early to tell? Former clinic worker Norma Eidelman was quoted saying:
They always wanted to know the sex, but we lied and said it was too early to tell. It was better for the women to think of the fetus as an “it.”
Incidentally, the Cedar River clinic in Renton has been sued for botching an abortion on a woman who was over 25 weeks pregnant. The woman, named Maria (last name withheld), almost died after the abortion and now can never have any other children. Court documents say:
Dr. Kothenbeutel and Cedar River Clinics were ill equipped to handle Maria Diel’s late term termination the termination was negligently performed. Maria Diel lost an excessive amount of blood and was taken from Cedar River Clinics by ambulance to Valley Medical Center where a hysterectomy was performed to save her life.
According to a blog that compiles information about abortion clinics in the Washington State area, this particular clinic has performed “hundreds if not thousands” of late-term abortions.