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September Sex


ABORTION AND BIRTH CONTROL

What's the most effective method of birth control?

&Abortion. Ironically, it satisfies nearly all the requirements of a perfect means of contraception. It doesn't interfere with foreplay , requires no technical skill on the part of the couple, is 100 percent effective in preventing birth (at least live birth), and does not stain the clothing. It is also cheap-if the actual cost is spread out over the total number of copulations, it can run as low as fifteen cents per act of intercourse . It also has a high degree of safety.

But is abortion really safe?

&Not only safe but legal. Recommended by your local social worker, endorsed by Family Planning, and stamped with the seal of approval of none other than the U.S. Supreme Court. Things have really changed:

"Doctor, I've had two abortions in my life. The first one was six years ago, when I was eighteen. It cost $500, was done in Tijuana in a motel room, and I almost died. The latest one was done last month. My minister helped me arrange it, the U.S. Government paid for it-my husband's in the service-my doctor did it in his office, and afterward when I couldn't get my car started one of his patient's who's a police sergeant, drove me home. Boy, was I amazed!" 

These days abortion has nearly become the gynecological equivalent of having your tonsils taken out. Of course, it wasn't always that easy. In the old days, back in 1969, most legal abortions involved raking around inside the uterus with a looped instrument called a "curette" to drag out the embryo. After the sixteen to twentieth week of pregnancy it was too late for that, so the uterus had to be opened up at surgery and the baby taken out. It was primitive at best.

Then American  doctors started  using a new machine-the  suction-abortion device-invented some years before  by Polish and Israeli scientists.  That  started  the Abortion  Revolution.

How did one machine start an  Abortion Revolution?

Well, if you think of the embryo in the pregnant uterus as being like a mouse in a breadbox, the idea comes into focus. The old way was like using a broomstick to force out the mouse. It did the job but it tore up the bread. The new abortion machine works on the principle of the vacuum cleaner: just hook it up, turn it on, and it sucks out the mouse-or the embryo. Basically it is nothing more than a small electric suction pump hooked up to a length of plastic tubing. The tube is carefully inserted into the uterus, the pump builds up a powerful suction, and another pregnant woman becomes unpregnant. No muss, no fuss, no bother.

Nowadays the vast majority of abortions are the  "vacuum cleaner" type-walk-in-walk-out.  (Lest any amateurs be tempted, that vacuum cleaner you have in the closet will end up turning your whole body inside out  and stuffing it into one of those little  papers dust bags. Save money some other way.) Of course, there  are  some women  who don't qualify for  a vacuum abortion.

Who doesn't  qualify for an abortion?

The women who wait  too long.  After  about the  sixteenth  week or so, the baby can't be whooshed out by suction-the  head  is just  too big.  But  Modern Science only sees that as a challenge. These  "later  abortions"   are usually handed  in the hospital. A nurse who assists describes it:

"Well, after the mother-I mean, patient-is prepared and on the operation table, the doctor comes in. He inserts a large-bore hypodermic needle right through her enlarged abdomen into the uterus. Then he slides a narrow plastic tube through the needle and sucks out about  a cupful of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby.  After that he pumps  in a strong solution of table salt-and that's it."

"What do you mean, 'that's it'?"

"You know, the rest is routine. The baby usually  dies in a few  minutes and it's born dead within twenty-four hours.  We usually have the mothers-I keep forgetting , the  patients-drop them in a bed pan. I guess that's the worst  part."

"The worst part?"

"Yes. The doctor rarely sees the baby, the patient doesn't want to see it, and I'm the one who has to get rid of them day after day. I can pretty much handle that. It's only the ones who are born alive that bother me."

Some aborted babies are born alive?

Oh, yes. In New York State alone, one of the pioneer states in legal abortion, more than thirty late abortions have produced living babies. Most of those died subsequently, although at least two infants marked for destruction have survived and will probably grow up into more or less normal children-in spite of their hazardous debut.

Isn't there  a better way to do it?

That, of course, is the problem-and a thoughtful reader summarizes  it very well:

"I notice, Doctor, that all the news stories about the advantages of abortion emphasize the safety of the procedure as far as the mother is concerned. I do not think, nevertheless , that abortion is too safe for the baby."

Not only does abortion have to be unsafe for the baby, it  has to be lethal for him. That's what it's all about.  The word  abortion itself comes from the Latin term aboriri, which  means "to  disappear,"  and the only way to really "disappear  the baby"  is to snuff it out.  If nobody interferes, that  little embryo or fetus-or  as some delicate souls like to call it, "the  product of conception"-is going to turn into a full-fledged  human  being. Pretending that the tiny organism in the uterus  isn't alive  because  it doesn't have a social security number or cannot watch  television doesn't fool anyone. The truth is, there is a trace of killing in every abortion-as well as a violation of the Hippocratic Oath. (To get around that, a lot of medical  schools just don't  bother  giving  the oath anymore.) Ending a human life-even if it's  only a potential human life-is a sobering undertaking.

But then should abortion be made illegal again?

Hardly. That's  like the story of the man who was being  interviewed on his ninety-second birthday. He was complaining to the reporter about losing his hearing, about his failing vision, and about his arthritis. The  reporter said: "It  really must be a nuisance to be so old!" "I used  to think so,"  said the old fellow with a  smile, "until I considered the alternative."

That's about the way it is with abortion. Inflicting  an unwanted child on an unwed mother  blights the lives of two human beings at once. Adding another unwelcome baby to a long string of ten other malnourished and miserable kids multiples unhappiness  for  thirteen people.

In most cases abortion is simply a form of retroactive birth control -second-thought  contraception for children who never should have been conceived (as far as their  parents were concerned)  in the first place. These days our  society feels that  only wanted children  should be born, so anybody can have an  abortion anytime so long as it's  done in the doctor's  office-or, in later stages, in the hospital.  But even that may be in the process of changing.

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