Dr. Thomas Hilgers is an OB/GYN who was in practice before Roe v. Wade, training for medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School followed by a residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.
In his 2020 book, “The Fake and Deceptive Science Behind Roe v. Wade,” Hilgers says that, despite pro-abortion claims that illegal abortions were common before Roe, he only ever encountered one woman in all his years of practice who tried to induce an illegal abortion.
The incident, he writes, took place in 1972, when the woman was 18 weeks pregnant. She came to the emergency room one night with a fever of 103.6° F and with abdominal pain and tenderness. Hilgers writes, “The signs and symptoms – along with the fever – are characteristic of acute chorioamnionitis – an infection that is present in the membranes and within the uterus surrounding the pregnancy.”
Hilgers wanted to know whether the baby was still alive. He used a Doppler unit to check for a fetal heartbeat. He found out that the baby’s heart was still beating. He writes:
I honestly didn’t know what to do at that moment. We had been taught – and I might add young doctors are today still being taught this – that the only treatment is to empty the uterus. So, I knew that the approach would be to start by giving her Pitocin, putting her in labor and in effect emptying the uterus.
That would have meant the death of the baby.
READ: Will overturning Roe lead to more pregnancy-related deaths? Statistics say no.
But the woman’s condition, though serious, was stable, and Hilgers wanted to try to save the baby. He admitted her to the hospital and put her on a high dose of antibiotics, keeping her under close observation. The next morning, the woman’s fever was gone, and her abdomen was less tender. Hilgers writes, “This gave me some hope that we might be successful with this treatment.”
He continued with the treatment, checking the woman throughout each day. By the ninth or tenth day of her hospitalization, she had recovered. The infection was gone. Her heart had also softened towards the baby. She decided to continue the pregnancy and keep her child.
Hilgers writes, “I could see that her heart was beginning to warm to this baby. When I discharged her, or shortly thereafter at least, she told me that she would be moving to Detroit and the baby would be born there.” Hilgers kept in touch with her, and she gave birth to a full-term, healthy baby girl.
The woman’s attitude changed completely. Right before the birth, Hilgers asked her what she was going to name her baby, and while he cannot remember the exact name, she told him it meant “looking forward to the baby coming.”
The mother decided she wanted her child and changed her mind about having an abortion; all that was needed was a little time. Even though this woman was desperate enough to attempt an illegal abortion, only a few weeks later, she looked forward to having her daughter. Research shows that her experience is not uncommon. Surprisingly, this was shown in a study that was widely touted as being pro-abortion.
Pro-abortion activists claim the Turnaway Study shows that most post-abortive women don’t regret their abortions, but it suffers from a number of methodological flaws. There were legitimate questions about the selection of aborting women who took part in the study since these women were chosen by abortion workers. Most women who were asked declined to take part and many in the sample dropped out. In fact, only 17% of those asked completed the study. There was no follow-up for those who dropped out. There were other problems as well.
But one finding from the Turnaway Study has been ignored by pro-abortion activists and the media. The study found that women denied an abortion adjusted well and changed their minds about wanting one. Only a week after being denied an abortion, over a third of the women no longer wanted one. Five years later, 96% were glad they didn’t abort.
This seems to indicate that most women’s feelings about their pregnancies and their babies change over time, and the vast majority of women adjust when they cannot get abortions.
Source: Thomas W Hilgers, MD The Fake and Deceptive Science Behind Roe v. Wade (New York: Beaufort Books, 2020) 23, 24 – 25
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