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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Woman sues clinic for failed abortion

Photo credit: andreyutzu/stock.xchng
I wasn't really sure I wanted to write about this - it's always a touchy subject, and I don't think we have enough time to go into detail on my feelings about abortion. But hey, what the heck.

I first read about this woman - a mom of a preschooler who attempted to have an abortion, which was unsuccessful - and ended happily (she's happy about it, just for the record) with the birth of a healthy, live infant. Thankfully, they posted a link (that most people either missed or didn't bother to read) that is a little more detailed than theirs.

The woman has a double uterus with two cervices (that's plural for cervix) - otherwise known as uterus didelphys. Apparently it's rather rare and goes undiagnosed unless the woman has problems, such as miscarriages and preterm births. From what I understand, uterine defects - especially this one - can cause repeated miscarriages, pre-term births and intrauterine growth restriction, depending on the severity of the defect. I myself have a bicornuate uterus, which is a heart-shaped variation that at the very least is why two of my children were not able to turn into the vertex position before birth.

According to the article, during the woman's first pregnancy the embryo implanted in the right uterus, producing a healthy, preterm infant delivered by cesarean. Unfortunately, the second pregnancy implanted in the left portion, and doctors felt that it could jeopardize the life of the mother if she remained pregnant.

I don't necessarily fault her for following the advice of her doctor. Nothing in this article made her sound cruel, heartless, or any of the other vile comments that some people made. She followed the advice of her physician, something many pregnant women do every day. Is the doctor always right? Depending on who you ask, that might be subject to debate.

I've read some literature from at least one OB who said that oftentimes women are given a grave diagnosis and decide to abort based on that opinion alone. Some, he reported, sought him for a second opinion and were surprised that it might not be as terribly serious as they once thought (and some definitely seek second and even third opinions only to be told the same devastating news). Really, though, when you think about it: childbirth advocates and many others often realize that many obstetricians are taught that pregnancy is an illness, a pathology. What else can you expect?

If indeed her doctor's advice was premature, or he was unnecessarily trying to scare her, this again can point the finger at doctors who are quick to suggest abortion for anomalies that are not as life-threatening as once thought. If anything, his suggestion that her uterus would be "too weak" may have been misguided or bad advice, but it all depends on the degree of deformity. If her doctor's advice really wasn't that sound, then he failed her. How many times have you heard someone say, "Just trust your doctor!" How about when he's telling you "You're stupid for attempting a VBAC, it's so dangerous,""I can't believe you're planning a home birth - are you trying to kill your baby?"

How can we fault her for just taking her doctor's advice, something every pregnant woman is encouraged to do?

So to get to the details: this woman sought an abortion from a clinic and they supposedly announced her free and clear after the procedure, only for her to find out she was still pregnant. I'm sorry, but I don't see how they can even begin to deny her claim: if you go in for an abortion and something is allegedly done to you, if you remain pregnant it's clear that they didn't do their job, correct? How can they deny no wrongdoing or negligence?

This woman then spent the rest of her pregnancy wondering what would happen: would her baby be born prematurely? Would her water break at 18 weeks and the baby die anyway, compounded by the failed efforts of the abortion clinic? I can't imagine her fear - then wondering, once the baby was born, if there would be lasting complications. And lastly, wondering, if they didn't perform an abortion, what the hell *did* they do to me?! 

The point remains: they were negligent. They screwed up. Whatever the case, they said they were doing something - for a fee - and they didn't do it. What if something terrible had happened? If she had had an ectopic pregnancy and they handled it this way, there's probably little doubt that she'd be dead by now. If they didn't get sued or at least called out by her, who else are they going to mess up with?