U.S. Supreme Court Abortion Ban: Death Toll 1?

by sassywho

22 year old Laura Smith died last month:

HYANNIS — Eileen and Tom Smith had just sat down to watch the evening news when they received a call no parent ever wants to get. The woman on the other end of the line was hysterical. She said the Smiths’ 22-year-old daughter, Laura, was in the emergency room at Cape Cod Hospital. The doctors were looking for next of kin.

And there was more. Laura Smith had been pregnant for 13 weeks. And, earlier that day, she had been at a clinic that provides abortions.

Her death is still being investigated:

The state medical examiner hasn’t determined the cause of Smith’s death, a state spokesman said. And Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe is awaiting those results before determining whether further action should be taken, he said.

Eileen Smith met with Osathanondh in the lobby of the Boston Harbor Hotel in Boston about 10 days after Laura’s death.

Smith said she learned from Osathanondh that her daughter had a suction-type abortion, and that she was anesthetized during the procedure. She saw the waiver her daughter signed, the permissions she gave and the list of drugs she was given, Smith said.

She declined to give further details, citing the court case.

Abortion-related death is rare in the United States, according to government statistics.

The Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, fraught with paternal condescension and obfuscating language, was unpopular with physicians and pro-choicers for a reason: women’s safety was at risk. This was widely known!

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a federal ban on so- called partial-birth abortion in April is causing medical practitioners to explore alternate second-trimester abortion methods, placing them in uncharted legal and medical waters that could compromise women’s health.

The ban is expected to bring more risky abortion methods — with little clinical data on safety — into wider use for the sole purpose of legally protecting providers, doctors and experts say.

These alternative second-trimester abortion methods include fetalcide — killing the fetus while it is still in the womb — and hysterotomy, opening the uterus through an abdominal incision.

I have no way of knowing what specific procedure Dr. Osathanondh used, but one doubts that, facing a potential a 2 year jail term, he would choose the safer–but legally riskier–option to terminate a 2nd trimester pregnancy.

While practitioners can continue to perform D&Es, they must now be careful about their methods, Drey said.

Dilating a woman’s cervix too far could show intent to perform a D&X — a violation of the law. Even the way clinicians hold forceps could show intent, Drey said.

“This is where it becomes frightening for physicians,” she said. “To do a safe D&E, you like to have more dilators. Now we are being told that more dilation means you have intent to do a criminal procedure.”

Not dilating a woman’s cervix far enough can result in discomfort, pain and medical risk, she said.

Because there are so many gray areas in the law, it is yet unknown what the parameters will be for prosecuting physicians, said Beth Parker, partner with Bingham McCutchen, who represented Planned Parenthood in the San Francisco case challenging the law.

Women’s health is directly tied to restrictions on abortion, as a study published in the Lancet this month is telling:

“We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,” Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.”

But the legal status of abortion did greatly affect the dangers involved, the researchers said. “Generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner,” Dr. Van Look said. “And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.”

It’s actually quite simple: restrict abortion, women die. Ultimately, Dr. Kennedy has compromised women’s health by turning medical practice into a crapshoot. Perhaps Laura Smith is the first casualty.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

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Thursday Blogwhoring: 3.6 Hrs != Enough

by matttbastard

Remind me to stop sacrificing sleep for obsessive late night blogging/research. Candle = burnt. Both ends; no wick nor wax remains.

Love, etc.

(Blah blah blah Melissa McEwan = teh r0x0r)

Feministe: What Color Are the Holes in Your Parachute? (La Lubu is a national treasure [h/t myca – so much for teh link embargo])

The Angry Black Woman: The Grass is Always Greener

The Silence of Our Friends: Bitter Laughter (h/t Donna Darko)

Creekside: Harper chooses gay superhero to be new symbol of Canada

Impolitical: Must…repeat…North…Star…:)

Shakesville: Shocking: Hate Peddlers Also Lying Douchebags

A Creative Revolution: Reality has a well known liberal bias……

Bene Diction Blogs On: Elections Canada – opps. 1 million voters not eligible (h/t April Reign)

AverageBro: The Gubb’ment Doesn’t Care About Your Nana’s Right To Vote

unrepentant old hippie: Code Pink activists detained

Women of Color Blog: “Hopelessly Deadlocked”

Cubically Challenged: Women, Belonging, Ownership

Slant Truth: The Blackface Files Return (oh for fucks sake)

Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome: Meet Beard-o

AngryBlackBitch: Bad Boy vodka?

Dymaxion World: Trying to lose

Birth Pangs: Girls and Women, Girls and Women, Girls and Women

April Reign: Anger, Resentment & Politics (PREACH!)

ex-lion tamer: why i like science fiction

Girl, Dislocated: As uneventful as it gets, part 1 and part 2

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: Cul-de-sacs and Three Way Intersections

by matttbastard

To sit back and ignore this crisis because “it’s not happening here” does a grave injustice to the cause of anti-oppression work. If we allow the U.S. government and ourselves to sit back and ignore this crisis, we might as well sit back and ignore the crises that happen here as well. As long as oppression and hate and genocide are allowed anywhere in the world, it will be allowed and justified at home.

But on the other hand, I feel that I also must remind that it is often easier to stand against oppression that isn’t happening in your own back yard. It’s a two-way street, with a cul-de-sac up the road and one of those three-way intersections a half a mile away where you have to take a left exit to go where you want. It ain’t always easy. Stand up against world-wide oppression, but don’t think that gives you a pass to ignore what is going on in your own neighborhood. You will be tired. You might also find yourself confused at times. But you won’t be nearly as tired and confused as those slaves were after an 18-hour day in the fields.

– The Thin Black Duke, Blogging Against Genocide

Besides the links included in Kevin’s post, make sure to check out Eric Reeves’ invaluable site (though I don’t agree with all of Reeves’ conclusions/solutions):

Eric Reeves is Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has spent the past eight years working full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both in the US and internationally. He has testified several times before the Congress, has lectured widely in academic settings, and has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations operating in Sudan. Working independently, he has written on all aspects of Sudan’s recent history. His book about Darfur (“A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide”) was published in May 2007 (available here). He is also at work on a longer-range project surveying the international response to ongoing war and human destruction in Sudan over the past 18 years (“Sudan — Suffering a Long Way Off”).

OTOH, Ken Silverstein contends that some Darfur advocacy campaigns like Save Darfur render an extremely convoluted and chaotic situation to a simplistic battle between good and evil, victim and oppressor. Silverstein points to a recent op-ed by David Rieff:

To communicate a more complicated message may be more accurate but it is inevitably less compelling, and according to the conventional wisdom, campaigns need to be compelling if they are to have a hope of success.

In the case of Darfur, there is in fact considerable controversy about whether the government of Sudan and the janjaweed have committed genocide. Save Darfur, the Holocaust Museum and the U.S. Congress say they have; the European Union and many of the most important relief groups working on the ground in western Sudan say they have not. There is also a heated debate among statisticians, demographers and activists about how many people have been killed or displaced. Understandably, those who are campaigning for an international intervention to rescue the Darfuris tend to accept the higher figures; indeed, for many it is the brute number of dead that drew them to activism in the first place.

To suggest that things may be more complicated is in no sense to deprecate their commitment. But it is to say that if, proverbially, the first casualty of war is truth, then the first casualty of activism is complexity. If Save Darfur had said, “Look, the situation in Darfur is very convoluted and, while the government of Sudan deserves the lion’s share of the blame, the rebels are no prize either,” how many contributions would the group have received, and how many volunteers would they have inspired?

Precious few, most likely. And yet — although it probably was the case that in 2004, the conflict in Darfur could accurately be described as a campaign of terror and murder against Darfuri civilians orchestrated by the Khartoum government — in 2007, the conflict has degenerated into one in which rebel factions are fighting one another while factions within the janjaweed are doing the same. In other words, it’s a war of all against all.

[…]
None of this is to say that the crisis in Darfur is manufactured. It is all too real. But a crisis that involves innocent victims and evil victimizers is different from one in which there is evil enough to go around — which, as the headlines demonstrate, is what is actually going on in Darfur.

Also see Lenin’s classic Sudan and lurid morality tales for young imperialists*:

The current crusading about Sudan reminds me of the old saying from the pan-African movement: nothing about us, without us. That it is also a slogan of the disability rights movement is somehow appropriate, since oppressed or marginalised groups tend to suffer from a great deal of imperious generosity by philanthropists and charitable overseers who think of them as children.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

*And here’s where my anti-imperialist/interventionist leanings come into play, which is why, after much thought, I ultimately chose not to directly participate in the Blog Against Genocide campaign. A difficult decision, one that will likely breed much inner turmoil and second-guessing (which neatly sums up my overall relationship over the years with the situation in Darfur; confusion, cul-de-sacs and three way intersections, indeed.)