“The Surgery I Needed to Save My Life”

Lon Newman

How much harm is done to women because they know very little about ectopic pregnancy and they cannot be sure they can get the care they need?

“Thank God I was able to have the surgery I needed to save my life,” says a young woman who experienced an ‘out-of-place’ or ectopic pregnancy. She was able to terminate the pregnancy.

You can hear and respond to her story here.

Although she was courageous enough to tell her story in an undisguised voice, I felt that it would be unwise to expose her to harassment. Her thoughtfulness; her personal sense of loss; her gratitude that she was able to receive the care she needed – as well as her anger at close friends who expressed a belief that she should not have terminated the pregnancy – all come through the distortion quite clearly.

Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) begins another “40 Days for Life prayer vigil” in front of a few of our clinics in Central Wisconsin.  Although FPHS is not an abortion provider, the picketers come to conduct their public display of righteousness in part because we support the right of women to a safe and legal abortion.  As health care providers, we must fully face the realities of our patients’ lives and each of us must struggle with informing a decision-making conscience.

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Therefore, we think it is a good time to open a discussion about this medically necessary pregnancy termination service.  We are grateful that a thoughtful and articulate woman, who received these services locally in June of this year, helped us by telling her story.

This podcast interview highlights some issues that are of great interest to reproductive rights and reproductive health care advocates and opponents.  The young woman’s interview is followed by an interview with a Wausau OB-Gyn physician who provides a medical description of ectopic pregnancies as well as the risks and available methods of treatment and intervention.

Here are some other thought-provoking quotes from the podcast:

  • “I have had friends who said that I should have ‘gone with God’s will,’ imposing their beliefs on my will to live.”
  • “We told a few people we thought would be supportive.  I chose poorly.”
  • “We need to train our physicians . . . They need to learn to do all of the procedures.”
  • “My husband and I really wanted this baby . . . It was DEVASTATING. To put on top of that grief, the insinuation that we did something wrong is completely insulting and heinous.”
  • “If they need to say they don’t provide abortions and then perform the life-saving procedures they did on me – then do it.”
  • “It’s difficult to know how many (pregnancies are ectopic) . . . but approximately 2 percent of pregnancies in the first three months.” Earl Zabel, M.D.
  • If the ectopic pregnancy is detected early enough, it can be treated with methotrexate administered by injection – and the pregnancy will deteriorate and disappear.  Earl Zabel, M.D.

I wonder how much harm is done to women because they know very little about ectopic pregnancy and they cannot be sure they can get the care they need.

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