Monday, 21 March 2011

Sarah Palin's "Abortiongate" revisited

I'm going to review Abortiongate in a dispassionate way, without speculation about who fathered Sarah Palin's offspring. (Feel free to do so in the comments...)

In her book Going Rogue, Sarah Palin wrote:

Just before Track was born, Todd and I moved to a small apartment in Wasilla, next door to our good friend Curtis Menard, Jr., who by now was a dentist like his dad. Curtis was like a brother to me. We asked him to be Track's godfather. Todd and I shared one car, and we loved our little life together, though with the Slope and fishing schedule we still didn't see each other very much. We desperately wanted another baby right away, so I was excited when I learned I was pregnant again. We were sure it was another boy, and we decided to call him Tad, a combination of Todd and Track.

I loved the fact we had planned so well and that events were falling neatly into place in our well-ordered lives. Our babies would be a year apart, right on schedule. At the beginning of my second trimester, I went in for my monthly exam. Todd was on the Slope. He had always been good about leaving me short love notes before he left, but as I drove to the doctor's office, his latest played in my head because it had a special addendum: "I love you, Tad!"

At my exam, the doctor listened for the baby's heartbeat. When she didn't smile, I didn't worry; she was known for her mellow demeanor. But I noticed that she kept moving the stethoscope around. And she didn't hand it to me as doctors usually do, so the expectant mother can listen to the sound of life.

"Let's do a quick sonogram," she said.

I agreed, eager to confirm that Tad was a boy - or to be surprised.

We moved to another room, and I lay down on a sheet-covered table. The doctor spread gel on my belly and began sliding the transducer back and forth. I waited for the familiar Shoosh-shoosh-shoosh sound of the baby's beating heart.

But it didn't come. And the sonogram picture looked empty.

The doctor said coldly, "There's nothing alive in there."

Her bluntness shocked me. I felt sick and hollow, and burst into tears.

"You have a couple of choices about getting rid of it," she said. "It." That's what she called our baby, whom we'd been calling Tad for three months.

She went on to explain that I could go home and let "it" pass naturally. Or I could have a D&C.


Todd flew home to be with me when I had the D&C. When the doctor's bill arrived in our mailbox, it came with a typo. In the box describing the procedure, someone had typed, "Abortion." Instead of starting off with a fresh form, they painted it over with a thin layer of Wite-Out and retyped, "Miscarriage." For some reason it just felt like salt in the wound.

This is a badly embroidered tale, full of inconsistencies and factual errors. Using Wite Out in a medical bill is simply not done, but she went along with her little story anyway.

I received this from a nurse:

The allegation that a medical office covered up 'abortion' with wite-out, and then wrote in 'miscarriage', was another glaring red flag for me. I have never heard of any medical office to ever use wite-out. That is a huge no-no in the medical field. The medical field also does not use the term 'miscarriage'. That is not a medical term. Also, if it was covered up with wite-out, how would she know that it said 'abortion' underneath?

The medical procedure done after a miscarriage or for an elective abortion is a D & C. If any of this happened at all, and with Sarah, you never know, I'll bet this is what it had listed as the procedure done. The paperwork most likely had the procedure as needed to be done due to abortion. I'll bet Sarah didn't realize that this term is also used for 'miscarriage', so she covered up abortion herself and wrote in 'miscarriage'.

If she had a miscarriage, as oppose to an elective abortion, I'm sure she would have called the office and asked (yelled) about abortion being on the paperwork. They would have explained that it is a medical term that is used to discribe the termination of a pregnancy, either voluntarily or accidentally.

If, as she claimed, at an ultrasound, the doctor said, "There is nothing alive in there," she would have had a D&C that would most likely have a ICD 9 code (used by insurance companies) of 637.91. That would be 'Legally unspecified abortion incomplete without complication.'

If it was an elective abortion, the ICD 9 code may have been 635.92 'Legally induced abortion complete without complication.'

From Wikipedia:

In medical (and veterinary) contexts, the word
"abortion" refers to any process by which a pregnancy ends with the death and removal or expulsion of the fetus, regardless of whether it is spontaneous or intentionally induced.

A missed abortion is when the embryo or fetus has died, but a miscarriage has not yet occurred. It is also referred to as delayed or missed miscarriage.

I found a forum where women commiserate with each other because they disagree with the medical terminology for miscarriage:

- I had what I call a missed miscarriage at 14 weeks in August. I recently received the hospital bill and it said missed abortion. I wish it wasn't called that, because I'm used to the word abortion meaning a deliberate termination of pregnancy. I wanted my baby so much, I never would have deliberately ended her life.

- Oh, I hated that too. My nurse at my D&C kept saying I had a missed abortion. It was horrible. Every time she went over anything about my procedure she said for my missed abortion. It made me so mad.

- I too hate that having a D&C due to a missed miscarriage is still called an abortion. The word 'abortion' has such a negative connotation. By definition an abortion is the surgical removal of a fetus from the womb - whether it is viable or not....but you would think that knowing the negative association with the word abortion the hospitals would have a different name. My doctor bill listed the procedure that was done - D&C and said nothing about an abortion or a miscarriage. I was okay with that bc that is what was done. I had a D&C. Even thought a D&C is also one of the procedures done in performing an elective abortion (as well as a D&E) I felt much better about the circumstances hot having the word abortion attached to what happened to me.

-My paper said "spontaneous abortion" - I think I will contact the hospital and ask for the word abortion to be removed. I understand it's the medical term but then they need to come up with a better term. Going through a m/c is hard enough, having the doctor and paperwork call it a "spontaneous abortion" is just plain mean and really painful! - Why can doctors not use the term Miscarriage?? I HATE the words Spontaneus Abortion! If I were to read that not knowing what it really meant, I would think that person spontaneously went and had an Abortion.

- I had the exact same thing happen. I lost my baby at 16 weeks and after all the pain I had gone through I got the hospital bill and it said "missed abortion" on it. I cried. It is a horrible term.

- I realize that the term "abortion" is a medical term. My Doctor referred to everything in my paperwork as miscarriage, but instead of the hospital using one of the medical terms for miscarriage such as incomplete abortion, spontaneous abortion or even missed abortion... the receipt they gave me for my co-pay on the day of the D&C states INDUCED abortion... so offensive to me.

- I agree!! It is something that should be renamed. The word to me was hard to hear. It has been over 3 years ago since I miscarried. Those words don't make anything easier when you are trying to heal. I wanted that baby and lost it!! I DID NOT ABORT IT!

Another forum, on Free Republic
, describes the word abortion as deeply offensive.

- "He's the kicker though. On the OBGyn's patient paperwork that tells what was done for the visit. It looks to be printed by the hospital group and has little check boxes by each thing an OBGyn would handle. Her miscarriage diagnosis was listed as...SPONTANEOUS ABORTION

While "spontaneous abortion" is semantically correct for some reason it just struck me as highly offensive.
Sorry my wife didn't have a "spontaneous abortion". She had a miscarriage. Yes I know I can't do anything about it, and doesn't really matter what the paperwork says. I just wanted to vent. Maybe it's just me. Miscarriage doesn't appear anywhere on the paper."

- "I’m very sorry about your loss, and it’s definitely an unpleasant term to see."

- "You’re not alone in finding it offensive. Years ago, and I mean 24 years ago...I had a miscarriage. Ended up in the ER and they kept referring to me as the “abortion” in bed such and such. It bothered me so much I asked them to quit using the term. They were patronizing explaining that it was what was medically termed a “spontaneous abortion” and I told them I didn’t care, I didn’t want to hear the word again."

One reader some sensible words:

- "Your medical caregivers must use this terminology for correct diagnosis, treatment, billing, and to comply with legal regulations. They do not intend to be offensive by using the term abortion with regard to your loss."

Helping women understand:


Why Did My Doctor Say My Miscarriage Was an Abortion?


The terminology of miscarriages can be confusing at times, and many women are shocked to see the word "abortion" on medical forms or to hear the term from doctors.

Although the practice is changing, many medical texts and medical professionals refer to miscarriages as abortions. The term "spontaneous abortion" generally refers to a miscarriage, or naturally occurring loss of a pregnancy (as opposed to the elective surgically or medically induced abortion of an otherwise viable pregnancy).

One more:

Miscarriage – This word is most often used by the general public to describe the very early delivery or loss of a baby. The mother is in the early or middle stages of pregnancy.

Spontaneous abortion – This is the medical term for miscarriage.

Medical staff wouldn't refer to apendicitis as a tummy ache or describe cystitis as burning pee, so why should they have to replace a technically accurate medical term to placate emotional responses to it?

A woman was no less emotional about the term, but for different reasons:

"Abortion is a very broad term. The pro-life contingent would like you to think it only applies to selfish, irresponsible women, murdering babies out of fear of inconvenience. That's a caricature they have invented to push their own agenda. Many of the women who seek out abortions are women who have been raped, who have learned that their child could not survive, have learned that giving birth could physically and permanently harm them. Or, thanks to newer and vaguer language, women who have already lost the life they were carrying, and need intervention to save their own. I was one of the latter. I hope I will be lucky enough to never be again. But if I am, I hope the insurers don't force me to carry that fetus until I medically harm myself, all for the sake of saying that they do not cover abortion services."

Sarah Palin is well known for using soundbites and various props to create and maintain a certain image in order to further her own political agenda. Her agenda is in great part based on personal issues: Family values (Mama Grizzly), pro-life (Trig), pro-guns (she's a hunter), religion (God makes her decisions), etc.

She must have felt it was necessary to include the Wite Out tale in Going Rogue for some reason. Was it a pre-emptive move because she had an elective abortion (for whatever reason) and it could have been made public?

Recalling the incident after so much "experience" as an elected official, portraying it in such emotional terms and showing her ignorance about medical terminology, seems to be a naive effort to pull at the heart strings of badly informed voters or people with similar emotional experiences. She comes across as a woman with an enormous preoccupation with her own womb, as if her womb alone gave her the necessary credentials to dictate how other women should regard their reproductive equipment.

When Sarah Palin talks about policy, she lies about her record and distorts the facts. So why shouldn't she lie and twist everything when it comes to her personal experiences?

In her political and personal accounts, she resorts to the most simplistic and emotional rhetoric, always shallow and often very much mistaken. It may appeal to her base and to vociferous anti-choice types, but to the reasonably informed voter she comes across as a simpleton.

Politicians often recall personal anecdotes to provide a human touch and to balance an otherwise dull discourse about policy.

In Sarah Palin's case, it's ALL she has to offer and her anecdotes always appear to have multiple layers, with the truth buried somewhere among them...

Attention, Babygate enthusiasts! There's a new post about Sarah Palin's strange pregnancy with Trig by the nurse who sent me the e-mail about the wite-out.