Monday, April 10, 2006

The relative value of life

For those of you who missed the Sunday NYT Magazine article about what's it's like to live in a country (El Salvador) where the "pro-life" position has been taken to its logical fucking extreme, here's the story on-line.

And an excerpt on ectopic pregnancies and how they are treated:

A policy that criminalizes all abortions has a flip side. It appears to mandate that the full force of the medical team must tend toward saving the fetus under any circumstances. This notion can lead to some dangerous practices. Consider an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that occurs when a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube — which is no bigger around than a pencil — and gets stuck there (or sometimes in the abdomen). Unattended, the stuck fetus grows until the organ containing it ruptures. A simple operation can remove the fetus before the organ bursts. After a rupture, though, the situation can turn into a medical emergency.

According to Sara Valdés, the director of the Hospital de Maternidad, women coming to her hospital with ectopic pregnancies cannot be operated on until fetal death or a rupture of the fallopian tube. "That is our policy," Valdés told me. She was plainly in torment about the subject. "That is the law," she said. "The D.A.'s office told us that this was the law." Valdés estimated that her hospital treated more than a hundred ectopic pregnancies each year.

Above is a picture of the facility where Carla Climaco, 26, is spending her 30-year sentence. She had an abortion at 18 weeks, and was convicted of aggravated homicide.

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