Wednesday, July 20, 2005

'I was actually fascinated by it. Until I saw one with a face.'
Diary of an Aspiring Abortionist

Gigi describes herself as a 25-year-old "wanna-be doctor" from Houston, Texas: "short, stubborn, and sarcastic as hell." She recently began to learn abortion firsthand at a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic. She wrote on July 7, in a post titled "I Love Uteri,"

Yesterday I was at Planned Parenthood, which I had never been to before.... Part of my morning was spent in a couple of counseling sessions, which all patients receive before an abortion to make sure that this is their decision and that they were not coerced in any way. It's also to make sure that this is what they want and that they know all of their options. I was surprised at the diversity of the patient population. There are women from all walks of life and of all ages. And from all beliefs. One woman had already had three abortions and one child. She quoted an entry from the Bible and thought that having a fourth abortion would kill her. She even asked the doctor when he walked in if she was going to die.
Gigi does not say whether that woman became one of the patients whose abortions she witnessed later that day.

She goes on to tell what she saw. This is not for the faint of heart, or for anyone who does not want to know what a safe-and-legal abortion is really like:
After the counseling sessions, I got to watch my attending do some procedures, or surgical abortions. I wasn't sure how I felt about this at first. But it is fascinating. [Warning: some graphic details to follow. Of course. I love uteri, remember?] Really it's just inserting a vacuum device into the woman's cervix and sucking out all the contents of the uterus. First the cervix is numbed up with some lidocaine and another drug that constricts blood vessels so that there's less bleeding. Then her cervix is dilated (how much depends on how far along she is) with these metal rod-dy things. Then a plastic tube attached to the vacuum device is placed in her uterus, the vacuum is turned on, and then the tube is moved back and forth while rotating it to suck it all out. Then an ultrasound is done through the vagina to make sure the gestational sac is gone. THEN we looked at what was sucked out after they wash out the blood and strain it. The first patient I saw was at 11 weeks and some days. I completely wasn't expecting it, but there were fetal parts. Like hands. And legs. And kidneys. It was pretty shocking. But, of course, after the initial shock, I was fine. I was actually fascinated by it. Until I saw one with a face. Complete with eyeballs. Told you it was graphic. It's amazing to think that all of this can form within only a couple of weeks. You go from someone who's only about 7 weeks along, and you can't make out anything, to someone who's at 9 weeks, and oh, there are some fingers. The human body is amazing. Apparently, at some point this month, I'll be doing the abortions. Still not sure how I feel about it. From the doctor side of it, I'm absolutely thrilled because it's more experience. From the personal side of it, I'm really not sure. It's hard to say because now that I can I have some medical background, I have to assimilate that with how I feel. Will have to think about that some more.
Gigi thought about it some more. The "thrill" won out. She wrote last night that she returned to the clinic a week ago to assist in abortions:
Wednesday I was back at Planned Parenthood. This time, I got to do "procedures." Which means I actually did the abortions. It's so weird. You know what the say about doctors emotionally removing themselves from situations and being all mechanical? It's true. I competely think that's what happens, and I found myself in the same boat. You come in, greet the patient, do your job, (get in, get out kinda thing), then say, Okay, see ya later. Well, I don't say that. The actual doctor does. And he's an extremely sociable and friendly guy, so it's not any kind of personality conflict. Maybe it's because it's such an emotional experience for the patient, and as doctors, we have to be more stoic and pull away from the emotion. You'd think I could apply this in other arenas of my life...I wish it were that simple. Anyway, I ended up doing at least five abortions. And because I still haven't examined my beliefs yet, it's still weird for me. I mean, it would be weird anyway, but it's almost like I had an out-of-body experience while I was doing them, so I can only half-believe that I did them.
All this took place during a pouring rainstorm—one that was so intense that the "procedure room"'s lights flickered. Gigi adds, "It's a good thing we hadn't gotten started because that seriously would have been a catastrophe." On her way home, her car flooded and gave out.

I'd like to think that Someone was trying to send Gigi a message through the storm—trying to tell her that there was something seriously wrong with being so detached during a medical "procedure" that she practically had an "out-of-body experience."

Dr. Robert J. Lifton writes on Page 442 of the online book The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide that the murderous doctors at Auschwitz underwent a form of detachment that sounds chillingly similar:
The Auschwitz self depended upon radically diminished feeling, upon one’s not experiencing psychologically what one was doing. I have called that state "psychic numbing," a general category of diminished capacity or inclination to feel. Psychic numbing involves an interruption in psychic action—in the continuous creation and re-creation of images and forms that constitutes the symbolizing or "formative process" characteristic of human mental life. Psychic numbing varies greatly in degree, from everyday blocking of excessive stimuli to extreme manifestations in response to death-saturated environments. But it is probably impossible to kill another human being without numbing oneself toward that victim.

The Auschwitz self also called upon the related mechanism of “derealization,” of divesting oneself from the actuality of what one is part of not experiencing it as real (That absence of actuality in regard to the killing was not inconsistent with an awareness of the killing policy — that is, of the Final Solution.) Still another pattern is that of disavowal or the rejection of what one actually perceives and of its meaning. Disavowal and derealization overlap and are both aspects of the overall numbing process. The key function of numbing in the Auschwitz self is the avoidance of feelings of guilt when one is involved in killing. The Auschwitz self can then engage in medicalized killing an ultimate form of numbed violence....

In discussing patterns of diminished feeling, Ernst B. told me that it was the "key" to understanding what happened in Auschwitz. In also pointing out that "one could react like a normal human being in Auschwitz only for the first few hours," he was talking about how anyone entering the place was almost immediately enveloped in a blanket of numbing. And there was similar significance to the prisoner doctor Magda V.'s rhetorical question: "I mean, how can you understand the horror of it all?"
How can any of us understand the horror of it all? How can anyone comprehend what legalized abortion has done to the American mind—training people to believe that human life is utterly dispensable? What kind of a world are we creating for our children when an abortion-drug manufacturer, in attempting to repair its image after reports of mounting patient deaths, boasts that its product has killed 460,000 children?

Think about those things while you ponder what's to become of the Supreme Court. Contact your senators and your representative to tell them how you feel. And if you want to join those who support the president's nominee, contact groups such as The American Center for Law and Justice and National Right to Life.

When we create a world where a medical student is as "thrilled" to see a dead child's face as an eighth-grader would be to dissect a frog, something is very, very wrong.