Written by Katherine Ottaway MD


Abortion must remain legal. I am a Family Practice Physician and did rural family medicine for 31 years. Here is one reason why we must keep it legal.

My partner’s patient comes in bleeding heavily, past 12 weeks pregnant. She needs a transfusion but the bleeding stops.
She comes in a second time, bleeding more heavily. This time she needs twice as much blood after bleeding for one hour. She is glad the baby is still alive on ultrasound. I am frightened.

I call a high-risk pregnancy doctor and ask what we should do. They advise me to send her to them to end the pregnancy. “Otherwise as the pregnancy gets bigger, she has a very high risk of bleeding to death.”

I talk to her. She is furious and says, “You can transfuse blood when I bleed!”

“No,” I say, “You bleed too fast. You bled heavily in one hour. I cannot transfuse you fast enough.”

She throws me out of her room.

I wait and think and go back. “How does this pregnancy feel to YOU?” I ask. By then she had faced the information, however little she wanted to hear it.

“Terrible!” she says and starts crying.

“Then you have to listen to that! We want to keep you alive for your other two children!”

“I will do it.” The pregnancy is ended, a second trimester abortion.

This is terribly hard, but I think it is the right decision. And I see her a few years later. She now has a third child. She says that it was hard, but she thanks me. The pregnancy did not feel right to her either. The number one cause of death of women of childbearing age used to be childbearing. I don’t want to return to that time.


Text © Katherine Ottaway MD



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