I was just too darn wiped out to post last night. I am sorry to the handful of readers here who might want to know what Aspazia thinks.
While I was on the plane, travelling West, I started to read an unpublished manuscript that was written by an abortionist in the pre-Roe era. I am embarking on an oral history project during my sabbatical to interview the surviving family members of this physician and learn more about what inspired him to become an abortionist at a time when abortion was illegal.
This physician is not famous or well-known. He did, however, land in jail for 25 months from 1964-1964 for performing an abortion. He had a small practice in Oklahoma, and the whole town knew what he did and basically kept his secret.
His son told me once that the judge asked his father: "so, do you understand that you are being found guilty of performing an abortion."
He responded: "yes, and your daughter came to me."
What I want to write about in this space is a story he writes about in his manuscript. He essentially wrote this book in order to give some insight into why he chose to perform abortions. He tells many stories of the women from his town, and yet fictionalizes the account to protect the people involved.
One story was about adoption. Dr. Henrie sees a woman from his small town who has already had 8 children. She finds herself pregnant once again pregnant. She is indigent, hence can barely afford the children she already has. This is also a small town that has recently been swept over by evangelical tent revivals and birth control is not available or legal in the United States.
She comes in to see Dr. Henrie with her two daughters, who beg him to perform an abortion. He declines doing so, but quickly steps into help make arrangements for the child to be adopted. A local attorney locates parents and the new parents agree to help pay her pre-natal and delivery costs. A few weeks before the birth, the soon-to-be adopting parents suddenly back out. Dr. Henrie suspects some foul play. The fact is that lawyers and other folks at this time were able to make a great deal of money off women who found themselves pregnant and unable to take care of the child.
Dr. Henrie, heroically, manages to find another set of adopting parents. They agree to pay for the delivery and other needed costs for this indigent woman's delivery. The day of delivery comes and tragically, the baby dies. The delivery was difficult and the baby did not make it. Further examination of dead baby revealed that he had down's syndrome as well.
The aftermath of this news is even more tragic.
Dr. Henrie writes:
Upon learning that the baby had died, the adopting parents reaction was to feel cheated. They had already been through this exact situation before and were further blighted by this new tragedy. What disturbs Dr. Henrie the most, however, is their failure to take responsibility of the situation. They do not mourn the lost child, nor do they show compassion to the mother, but instead demand that they not have to pay for any of the costs.
When the business side of the delivery is conducted and it is clear that the adopting parents were unhappy that the baby had died, Dr. Henrie reflected on the petty nature of haggling over expenses.