Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chapter 29 - All about Abortions

November 20, 1948

Jerry was raking leaves when Solomon got there. “We missed you yesterday,” he said leaning on his rake.

“Ma and I had a set of twins to deliver across Black Fort Highway,” Solomon said. “Where’s Becky?”

Jerry rolled his eyes. “She’s been holding up in her bedroom since yesterday,” he said. “I guess it’s something Robbie did again. He keeps her tore up half the time.”

“I’ll go talk to her,” Solomon said.

“Come on in,” she said as he knocked on her bedroom door.

The room was dark in the late afternoon shadows. She had pulled the shades down already. “It’s so dark in here,” he said, “were you napping?”

“No,” she said quietly.

Solomon stood beside her, and she looked up at him. “You’ve been crying,” he said touching her cheek. “What’s wrong?”

“Robbie’s got a girlfriend,” she said.

“Are you sure?”

She handed Robbie’s letter to him. It was a short letter. It said that he felt their separation had caused them to grow apart. He’d been seeing a mutual friend, Claire Burton, and he wanted Becky to know that he would understand if she wanted to date that guy that she wrote about sometimes.

Solomon handed the letter back to Becky. “I don’t like him,” he said. “He sent you away because you were pregnant with his baby…a baby that he didn’t want. He’s never come here to visit you. He’s telling you that he’s dating someone, and he’s giving you permission to date me. I think he’s a self-centered, manipulative prick.”

Becky grinned at him. “I’ve never seen this side of you,” she said.

Solomon paced for a minute, and then he said, “I want you to take a walk with me.”

She grabbed a coat and followed him outside. “Where are we going?”

“I don’t know…just out.” He put his arm around her and started up the path to the tree stand.

“I didn’t expect you to get mad about this,” she said.

“It makes me mad that he jerks you around.”

“You don’t have to feel like you need to defend my honor,” she said, “when Robbie went off to law school and told me that he didn’t want me to go with him, I knew in my heart that it was over.”

Solomon stared into the woods with his hands in his pockets. “He wanted you to have an abortion,” he said.

“Yes,” she responded, “but I didn’t feel that I could do that.”

Solomon pointed to a fallen log, “Let’s sit.” He hunched over with his elbows on his knees. His dark curls fell over his forehead. He reached between his legs and picked up some pebbles. He fidgeted with them turning them over and over in his hands.

“Solomon, do you ever do abortions?” Becky asked.

Solomon studied her face. “Becky, you’re too far along,” he said.

She laughed at him, “Lighten up, Solomon. I’m just curious about what you think about abortion.”

He cut his eyes over at her. He felt uneasy talking about this…seeing that abortion was illegal. He knew that there was only one correct answer for a doctor or a midwife in the state of Tennessee. He turned over a few pebbles at his feet looking for the right one to add to the collection in his hand. He remembered the day on Buzzard Mountain when Becky had gotten him to admit that he was practicing medicine without a license. He sighed at his dilemma. She’s doing it again, he thought. “It should be a decision between a woman and her doctor, or midwife,” he answered.

“Are you saying that you would do an abortion?” she asked.

“If a patient comes to me saying she’s missed her period...and she doesn’t want to be pregnant,” Solomon watched Becky for a reaction, “I have an abortifacient suppository that usually keeps the egg from implanting. Within a few days cramps start in and the uterus expels whatever’s in there. The endometrial lining sloughs off and carries the fertilized egg with it.”

“Oh,” she said grimacing, “I might have been willing to do that. I should have asked you what my options were when I found out what you do for a living.”

Solomon turned back to the stones in his hands. “You were too far along for that when you moved here.” He cleaned off a garnet that was embedded in a piece of quartz. “And then there’s something called laminaria,” he continued, “it’s been used by midwives for thousands of years. It’s made of seaweed. It looks like a matchstick with a string on the end of it. It’s inserted into the cervix, where it swells up to the size of a cigarette. Opening the cervix like that causes a miscarriage.”

Becky’s mouth dropped open. “I’ve never heard of any such thing,” she said, “do you have any?”

Solomon grinned. “You ask too many questions,” he said.

She bumped him with her shoulder, “Smarty.”

“Another early procedure is called menstrual extraction,” he said.

“Good grief,” she said, “that sounds disgusting!”

“You use plastic tubing and a mason jar with a rubber stopper and a syringe to create a vacuum in the jar.”

“Solomon, stop! I don’t even want to think about that,” she whined.

“Sorry,” he said chuckling, “it’s actually less invasive than a D & C. I managed to get Dr. Wall to replace some D & C’s with it.”

Becky squeezed her eyes shut and shuddered. She leaned back with her hands on the back of the log, which pushed her belly up and out. “At school I heard about this doctor that does abortions. The woman leaves her money in an envelope at the door, and then she’s supposed to lie down on a table and pull this curtain so the doctor can’t see her face, and she can’t see his. He does the abortion, and then she cleans up and goes on about her business. Robbie said he’d go with me, but I just couldn’t do it.”

Solomon put his hand on top of her belly and said, “I’m glad you didn’t go to that doctor.”

She laughed like he’d tickled her and sat up straight. “How’s an abortion done anyway?” she asked. “Can a woman have an abortion and just get up like that and leave?”

“It depends,” he said.

“On what?” she asked.

“Well, it depends on how far along the pregnancy the mother’s health is. It depends on a lot of things,” he said. “Actually an abortion and a D & C are about the same procedure. With an abortion the fetus is alive, and with a D & C the fetus is dead. I’ve done the procedure a lot of times,” he said.

“You have?” She seemed surprised.

“Yeah, after I started working for Dr. Wall five years ago, he asked me to do most of his D & C’s,” Solomon said. “He didn’t see well, and his hands shook when he got tired. It’s a simple procedure.”

“It is? I don’t really know what it is.”

“Dilation and curettage,” he said, “the cervix is dilated with instruments that gradually increase in size. Larger and larger dilators are inserted until the cervix is open about this much,” he held up his little finger, “and then the uterine walls are scraped with a sharp spoon-shaped instrument called a curette.”

“Sounds like it would hurt,” she said.

Solomon shrugged, “It hurts some. I numb the cervix with lidocaine.”

Becky made a face about that. “I remember you said that a soul attaches to a physical body at conception.”

“That’s right,” Solomon nodded.

She looked at him seriously, “I was just thinking. Isn’t abortion like murder then? I kills a baby."

Solomon said, “God knows a mother’s heart. He knows when a mother is doing the best that she can do, and He’s merciful.”

Becky sat quietly for a moment, and then she said, “Do you think the souls of aborted fetuses could come back as angry ghosts?”

Solomon smiled, “No, the soul of an aborted fetus immediately returns to God. It’s certainly not angry. In fact, it has a loving concern for its parents. There’s an eternal bond between them. The fetus understands what sad circumstances brought its mother to decide on an abortion.”

Becky laid her head on Solomon’s shoulder. He kissed the top of it and said, “I’m sorry Robbie hurt you.”

She snuggled closer. “He hurt my feelings some, but I haven’t felt attached to him in a while. Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder for someone else.”

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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