Saturday, February 23, 2008

A tragic story

I saw this story yesterday in the Telegraph (U.K.) and took time to consider whether to post or not. Yes, this is just one case of a woman who apparently had a history of anxiety and depression, so this is not the "normal" reaction to the act of abortion, but there are some real home truths in here. The fact that she had an abortion because others wanted her to is very common.

And the fact that those in the hospital saw this as a routine procedure and didn't seem to clue into the fact that this woman had real and tragic doubts is reprehensible, no matter what the inquest says. From the Telegraph [boldface mine]:

An artist killed herself after aborting her twins when she was eight weeks pregnant, leaving a note saying: "I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum."

Emma Beck was found hanging at her home in Helston, Cornwall, on Feb 1 2007. She was declared dead early the following day - her 31st birthday.

Her suicide note read: "I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does."

The inquest at Truro City Hall heard that Miss Beck had split up with her boyfriend, referred to as "Ben" after he "reacted badly" to the pregnancy.

She saw her GP before the termination, but missed an appointment at a hospital in Penzance. She then cancelled, but later turned up to an appointment at a clinic at Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske. The counsellor was on holiday so a doctor referred Miss Beck to a pregnancy counselling telephone service eight days before carrying out the abortion when she was eight weeks pregnant, the inquest heard. . .

The inquest heard that Sylvia Beck, the victim's mother, wrote to the hospital after her daughter's death, saying: "I want to know why she was not given the opportunity to see a counsellor. She was only going ahead with the abortion because her boyfriend did not want the twins.

"I believe this is what led Emma to take her own life - she could not live with what she had done."

The doctor said: "I discussed Emma's situation with her, and wrote on the form, 'Unsupported, lives alone, ex-partner aware'.

"It is normal practice to give a woman the number for telephone counselling when a counsellor is not available. I am satisfied that everything was done to make sure that Emma consented to the operation.". . .

Katie Gibbs, Miss Beck's GP, told the hearing: "She was extremely distressed by the abortion procedure, and I didn't think she ever came to terms with it.

"She had a long history of anxiety and depression. Despite my best efforts, she was not willing to see a counsellor after the termination."

Her boss at the clinic, said: "The time that can be given to a woman by a counsellor is limited in a busy hospital.

"I am satisfied everything was done to make sure Emma was consenting to surgery. I don't feel there was any gap in the counselling service.

"There were lots of individuals who would be alert to any doubts. The comments made by Emma's mother are not about a doctor I recognise."

Mrs Beck told the court: "Emma was considered a talented artist, and sold a number of paintings. She was pleased when she became pregnant, but Ben reacted badly to the news."

Recording a verdict of suicide, Dr Carlyon said: "It is clear that a termination can have a profound effect on a woman's life. But I am reassured by the evidence of the doctors here."

Read it all.

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