Abortion, up close and personal

baby2Sometimes a story full of quotes and graphic descriptions can get to the heart of an issue better than a story heavy in theory and complex details. A person can know all the facts and the statistics about abortion, but can that person really know what an abortion is? The Los Angeles Times (yes again) ran a must-read piece Tuesday that begs for an award of some kind. The religious language is amazing and Stephanie Simon really digs at the multifaceted issues of actually having an abortion. The article brings the reader into the abortion room and allows them to examine the many opinions of females before and after they have an abortion. To say the least, it's all quite startling to read:

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 article focuses on a Dr. William F. Harrison, a self-proclaimed abortionist who says he has terminated at least 20,000 pregnancies. Harrison's clinic has been picketed and firebombed, he routinely receives death threats and protesters have marched outside his home. Through all this he has become essentially an advocate for abortion and admits that he is "destroying life."

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

Stephanie Simon has put the reality of abortion before us all to read about and to come to our own conclusions. Throughout the piece, shocking examples of excuses for an abortion ("A high school volleyball player says she doesn't want to give up her body for nine months."), give way to the less shocking (Kim, a single mother of three, says she couldn't bear to give away a child and have to wonder every day if he were loved).

But a majority of the explanations for the abortions are of the shocking nature:

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."

Journalists are starting to see the evil side of abortion and they will begin to tell the story. One hopes that reporters will also be able to grasp the political intricacies of an overturned Roe v. Wade.

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