In an article about abortionist Dr. William Harrison, the author describes an abortion:
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 doctor is wearing a black turtleneck, brown slacks and tennis shoes. He snaps his gum as he checks the monitors displaying the patient’s pulse rate and oxygen count.
“This is not going to be nearly as hard as you anticipate,” he tells her.
She smiles wanly. Keeping up a constant patter – he asks about her brothers, her future birth control plans, whether she’s good at tongue twisters – Harrison pulls on sterile gloves.
“How’re you doing up there?” he asks.
Harrison glances at an ultrasound screen frozen with an image of the fetus taken moments before. Against the fuzzy black-and-white screen, he sees the curve of a head, the bend of an elbow, the ball of a fist.
“You may feel some cramping while we suction everything out,” Harrison tells the patient.
A moment later, he says: “You’re going to hear a sucking sound.”
The abortion takes two minutes. The patient lies still and quiet, her eyes closed, a few tears rolling down her cheeks. The friend who has accompanied her stands at her side, mutely stroking her arm.
When he’s done, Harrison performs another ultrasound. The screen this time is blank but for the contours of the uterus. “We’ve gotten everything out of there,” he says
Stephanie Simon “Offering Abortion, Rebirth” The Los Angeles Times 29 November 2005Share on Facebook