Michael Biesecker, Associated Press
And so is there a connection between the amount of money the drug companies now spend – is this basically, are free samples essentially the marketing right off?
Andrew Taylor, Associated Press
Many anti-abortion activists deny that women who lack access to a safe, legal abortion would choose an unsafe abortion. Yet in the past they have, in large numbers, and the health consequences for women were tragic. Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and '60s range from at least . These illegal abortions were dangerous — they accounted for nearly 20 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths during those decades.
Normally people prefer to receive an electric shock than to give one to another person. But this tendency disappeared among those given levodopa, a dopamine-enhancing drug used for people with Parkinson’s.
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To understand and support a patient in her decision is one thing. To be faced firsthand with the physical implications of that decision is another. There is a reason that opponents of abortion often use images of second-trimester procedures like the one I observed to advance their cause. The fetus has, at this point in pregnancy, developed into something with discrete and recognizable human features.
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I felt for the first time the gravity of what had previously been only theoretical. I was forced, in those minutes in the operating room and for many days thereafter, to reconcile my grief with something quite the opposite. It was a strong and enduring sense that we had done something therapeutic and right, that we had lifted a small part of her burden of suffering and, with time, set the patient on the path to healing from a terrible situation.
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Soon, my reflections on abortion went from theoretical to practical. In my third year of medical school I spent six weeks immersed in the world of obstetrics and gynecology. I had a patient who underwent a surgical abortion — the first I had ever seen. My patient was a mother of two healthy children, pregnant with her third child, but this pregnancy had gone horribly awry. Her fetus had a severe anomaly diagnosed in the second trimester of pregnancy. This anomaly was so severe that her fetus was likely to die in the womb or very soon after birth. After learning about this prognosis, she made the decision to end her pregnancy.
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As I continued working with patients, I found that most abortions are not like this. Most women who have abortions — — do so within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and . Despite common stereotypes, women who have abortions are a racially diverse group, many from disadvantaged backgrounds and unstable social situations and others from relative privilege. Their reasons for choosing to end their pregnancies are varied and often complex. Many of the patients I saw were either married or in otherwise very committed relationships with their partners. Statistics tell us that .
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Some patients I met had confidently known their choice and their reasons from the moment the test came back positive, while others had taken a more circuitous path to a nonetheless resolute decision. Some were at peace, and some were conflicted on the day of their procedure, still grieving the fact that they were pregnant when they did not want to be.