A series of information sheets obtained by The Interim and related to a Toronto abortuary offer a revealing glimpse into the workings, tactics and mindset of personnel within the abortion industry. They also indicate an attempt by such personnel to guard themselves against possible future legal actions by revealing some of the negative and dangerous aspects of the abortion procedure.
The documents, which include appointment booking information, emanate from the Choice in Health Clinic abortuary on Parliament Street in Toronto. They indicate that the abortuary provides “services” including: abortions to four-and-a-half months’ gestation; “decision counselling;” “emergency contraception;” post-abortion checkups; and post-abortion”counselling.”
The documents suggest that a client has the right to see and/or have a photocopy of an ultrasound photo (apparently of the preborn child) and may see or take away her “pregnancy tissue.” The abortuary states that it can also make arrangements for women who have concerns or questions, or need reassurance, within three or four days of an abortion, “when most women who have concerns or questions call us.”
Because the Choice in Health abortuary is located in an area populated by many immigrants and minorities, copies of its information are translated into other languages, including Vietnamese, Urdu, Spanish, Chinese and Tamil.
On the financial side of things, the abortuary says it “regrets” that it must ask for a payment of $400 in cash for any woman who does not have a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan card on the day of her abortion. It limits appointments to these uninsured women to just three per week. Clients having a laminaria (a device that dilates the cervix) inserted must pay the full amount in cash, or by cash and a subsidy agreement, on the day the laminaria is inserted.
Interestingly, the documents present some basic information on fetal development; for example, they acknowledge that within the 14 weeks the Choice in Health Clinic commits abortions: an “early brain,” liver, kidney and pancreas form; arms, legs, eyes and ears grow; a “soft skeleton” forms; and blood vessels form and begin to connect with one another.
In the category of “risks,” the abortuary admits that infection in the uterus occurs in two to four per cent of abortions, while “pregnancy tissue” stays behind in up to one per cent of abortions, and may necessitate a second abortion. Other risks include “continued pregnancy” (i.e., a failed abortion), blood in the uterus; excessive bleeding; injury to the uterus or other internal organs and allergic reactions.
The abortuary promises “experienced, non-directive, non-judgemental” pre-abortion counselling, during which the benefits and disadvantages of parenting, adoption and abortion are said to be discussed. “Clients who decide to continue the pregnancy will be given resource information and referrals as desired,” it claims.
For those clients who have passed their 14th week of pregnancy, Choice in Health pledges to assist in arranging an appointment elsewhere in Ontario, where abortions can be performed up to the 5th month of pregnancy. This can be done through code names, so no one else knows that an abortuary is involved. Of course, Choice in Health’s phone number is blocked.
Elsewhere in the documents, Choice in Health claims that abortions create fewer complications that a tonsillectomy, and that it is safer for a woman to abort than carry a baby to birth – assertions that would be hotly contested by many. It adds that women undergoing abortions are offered the drugs fentanyl and atropine to help with pain relief and fainting.
After an abortion, a woman can expect bleeding, cramps, nausea, tiredness, breast tenderness and frequent urination. There can also be “sadness or a sense of loss, even when the decision to have the abortion was easy to make.” Mood changes and depression are other after-effects.
Choice in Health stresses that women experiencing complications or emergencies after an abortion “may” be able to get help from a doctor or emergency room, but they should “CALL US FIRST” (emphasis in the original documentation) because “few doctors or hospitals have as much experience as we do with women who have just had an abortion.”
A brochure “For Men About Abortion” notes that many men escorting women for abortions are “confused, worried and upset.” It acknowledges that “there are always feelings about a pregnancy and an abortion” and that “sadness and a sense of loss may also accompany an abortion.” Indeed, a man “might find himself from time to time trying to imagine what the baby would have looked like.”
Another document involves using journalling questions to help a woman deal with “the healing choice.” It advocates using “creative selfishness” to care for oneself without feeling guilty. Eliminating guilt is the key: “If you don’t champion your rights, who is going to?”
The also package includes an “Abortion Resolution Workbook” from Cincinatti Women’s Services, which offers methods for experiencing “wholeness and healing” despite an abortion experience that leaves women “feeling bad, having nightmares, regretting their decision or simply still hurting and unable to forget.”