the last abortion doctor revisited

People don't get it, he says. After eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, 406 death threats, 179 assaults, and four kidnappings, people are still in denial. They say, Well, this was just some wingnut guy who just decided to go blow up somebody. Wrong. This was a cold-blooded, brutal, political assassination that is the logical consequence of thirty-five years of hate speech and incitement to violence by people from the highest levels of American society, including but in no way limited to George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Bill O'Reilly, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Reagan may not have been a fascist, but he was a tool of the fascists. George W. Bush was most certainly a tool of the fascists. They use this issue to get power. They seem civilized but underneath you have this seething mass of angry, rabid anger and hatred of freedom that is really frightening, and they support people like the guy who shot George — they're all pretending to be upset, issuing statements about how much they deplore violence, but it's just bullshit. This is exactly what they wanted to happen.

He goes on about Bill O'Reilly for a while. Over the course of twenty-nine separate shows, O'Reilly accused "Tiller the Baby Killer" of performing a late abortion for any reason at all, even so a girl could attend a rock concert — a charge that is blatantly untrue. O'Reilly is a disgrace to American society, he says.

But O'Reilly says he's just exercising his right to engage in vigorous debate, you point out.

He's full of shit. This is not a debate, it's a civil war. And the other people are using bullets and bombs. I think O'Reilly is a fascist, and he would fit right in in Nazi Germany as far as I'm concerned.

It's odd, you say, trying to be agreeable. They always go after the doctors. They never go after the moms.

His eyes snap up. What moms? The patients?

Yeah, the patients.

They're not moms until they have a baby.

Last week, I posted a link to a long story that ran in Esquire last year, a few months after the assassination of Dr George Tiller in Kansas. Apparently I'm the only person in the entire reproductive rights movement who missed it, probably because it came out in September, while I was beginning school, completely overloaded and stressed, and de-focusing the outside world.

I've just finished reading the story, and it is a must-read for anyone who thinks about this issue.

The story profiles Dr Warren Hern, who performs later-term abortions in Colorado. (At the time of publication, he was thought to be the last such doctor in the US, but abortion-rights activists tell me that two of the late Dr Tiller's associates are still performing the procedure.)

Dr Hern is militantly, passionately and compassionately pro-choice. He drives himself to exhaustion and puts his own life at risk every day in order that women not be forced to bear tragic pregnancies to term. He also recognizes the sadness and grief inherent in his work.

I frequently write that despite how abortion is framed in the media, terminating a pregnancy is not always - perhaps not even usually - a wrenching decision. It is often a clear and obvious choice, not something anyone wants to go through, but very clearly something that needs to be done. The feeling most women attest to post-procedure is that of overwhelming relief.

But all that applies to early, first-trimester abortions. Later-term abortions are almost always personal tragedies, laden with loss, grief, pain and fear.

I will never forget my former friend who, after two spontaneous abortions of wanted pregnancies (commonly called "miscarriages"), was finally, joyfully pregnant. I will never forget the day she called me about the results of her amnio: if she carried to term, the baby would have no brain, and would die moments after birth. She was insane with grief. I truly believe that if safe and legal abortion wasn't available to her, she would have attempted suicide.

That's what later-term abortion is all about.

Imagine being in that situation and also having to fear for your life from terrorism. Imagine being in that situation and having nowhere to go, because all the doctors have been terrorized out of business.

So please read the Esquire story.

More about second trimester abortions, and why they are needed, here. If US state law was not controlled by woman-haters, and if US women had access to health care, most of these procedures would be unnecessary. That's not my opinion; that's a fact.

Thanks again to M Yass for sending.

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