By Mary Kay Hastings
If you are reading this, chances are pretty good that your heart is beating. You don't need a doctor to listen with a stethoscope to know that this is true.
If, however, you are the unborn baby of a poor, Hispanic woman, you might need a little help proving that you are, indeed, the proud owner of a beating heart.
Unfortunately, this particular woman could not afford to go to a "real" doctor's office and was reduced to visiting a "Woman's Clinic". Specifically, the American Women's Center located at 2744 N Western Ave. in Chicago. The doctor there informed her that while she was in fact pregnant, he could not find a heartbeat. This doctor did not use a fetal monitor. He did not perform an ultrasound. He used an ordinary stethoscope on a woman that was 18 days pregnant and determined that her baby was dead because he could not find it's heartbeat.
She was told that she would need to have this "taken care of". The clinic she was in would not be open the following day, but if she would go to 110 S. River Rd. in Des Plaines the doctor said, they would be happy to help her there. Apparently, these two clinics are owned and operated by the same entity. Both of these clinics primarily provide abortions.
She arrived that rainy Saturday, crying over the loss of her baby, devastated by the news that she wouldn't be a mother. That is where our paths crossed. That is where the tears stopped, and hope began.
I'll call her "Esperanza"( Esperanza means hope in Spanish).
Esperanza was 20 years old. She had already had one abortion. She told us that she often dreamed of walking in dark corridors, hearing her baby calling out for her, only to find a pool of blood and broken body parts (Her words, not mine).
She said that when she had that abortion, she didn't care about anything and certainly ddin't care about the child she was carrying. She never expected to be haunted by the nightmares that followed. She said that the worst part was the guilt. When I told her that she was not a bad, evil person, but a good person who had done a bad thing, she cried again. She could not believe my words. She believed she was not worthy of forgiveness and was convinced that this new baby had died as a punishment for her abortion. I told her, no, God does not work that way. God was spreading His arms wide even as we were speaking and calling, "Esperanza, come home".
I asked her if she would let me accompany her down the street to the "Woman's Center". There, I told her, we could get a second, more credible opinion on her child's status. I explained that no reputable doctor would send a woman to an abortion clinic simply because he could not find a heartbeat. If her child were truly deceased, then she would have either passed it naturally or been sent to an emergency room. Either way, without an ultrasound, we could not be sure if the baby was dead or not. Esperanza agreed to go with me to the clinic.
The Women's Center on Golf Rd. is a not-for profit organization designed to help woman in a crisis pregnancy. They offer financial assistance, medical help, and counseling, among other services. On this day, they gave Esperanza a pregnancy test, (which was positive), a proof of pregnancy letter, and helped her apply for a medical card. They then sent us to Resurrection Hospital to get an ultrasound.
I had arrived at the clinic at 6:00 am that morning. I was there to counsel woman entering the abortion clinic. A group of us go there every Saturday because we believe that most woman are not making a "choice", but rather, they are reacting to a set of circumstances.
We believe that if they are going to make a true choice, then they should have all of the information they need to make an informed choice. We gave them that information. Esperanza arrived at the clinic at 9:00 am. It was now 12:00 pm. We were at the Resurrection Hospital Emergency room and Esperanza had just been taken into an examination room. I waited in the waiting room with her brother.
The time ticked by. Slowly. I prayed. I hoped I had not given Esperanza false hope. I prayed that she would be able to accept the fact that her baby was dead. I prayed that her baby was alive. I waited. I ate some Lorna Doones and had some coffee. I prayed and waited some more. At three o'clock, her girlfriend came out to tell me that they were just then taking her down the hall for her ultrasound. She told me it would be another forty-five minutes. I got out my rosary. I waited. Had I done the right thing? Had I helped save a babies life? Or had I sent a woman into a depression, convinced that her baby had died because of her past sins. God help me, I didn't know. I only knew that I had done the only thing my conscience would allow. I had fought for that baby's life.
At four o'clock, Esperanza and her girlfriend came into the waiting room, waving a piece of paper. They handed the paper to me and I saw that it was an ultrasound image of a perfectly healthy, 21 day old baby...and it's heart, I was told, was beating!
I tell this story, because it provokes some very important questions. Questions like, "Is abortion truly a "service" for women as it claims, or is it something more sinister?
As Catholics, we know that it is wrong from a moral standpoint, but surely, even the secular world would have to admit that this "doctor" behaved unethically. Is the five-hundred dollar profit he makes off of an abortion really worth sending a perfectly healthy woman to abort a perfectly healthy baby that she desperately wants?
Is this an anomaly, or is this business as usual? And most frightening of all; Did this happen because the woman was a minority?
Consider this: Since 1973, abortion has reduced the black population by 25%. While 13% of women are black, they account for 35% of the abortions performed in this country.
The abortion ratio for black women (503 per 1,00 live births) was 3.0 times the ratio to white women. (167 per 1,000 live births) while the ratio for women of other races (329 per 1,000 live births) was 2.0 times the ratio to white women. (CDC Surveillance Summaries, Nov. 28, 2003)
I leave you with this quote, taken from the San Diego Union. It is made by Dr. Edward Allred, owner of 33 abortion clinics here in the United States. At 500 dollars per abortion, and 50 or more abortions a day at 33 different clinics...well, you do the math.
"Population control is too important to be stopped by some right wing pro-life types. Take the new influx of Hispanic immigrants. Their lack of respect for democracy and social order is frightening. I hope I can do something to stem that tide;I'd set up a clinic in Mexico for free if I could...when a sullen black woman of 17 or 18 can decide to have a baby and become a burden to all of us, it's time to stop."
I couldn't agree more Mr. Allred. It is indeed, time to stop.