“History shows that no nation has reached its full potential, politically, socially or economically, when its women cannot control their fertility. Once they can, that nation’s most valuable resource, brainpower, is doubled if not more.”

 

I began my residency training in obstetrics and gynecology in 1965. It was eight years prior to Roe v. Wade. Abortion was illegal. Yet countless numbers of women were hospitalized because they had had an incomplete abortion. The “abortion” had been induced and conducted under very questionable, often dangerous circumstances.

Early in my residency training in obstetrics and gynecology, I was assigned a patient who was bleeding. She had been admitted with a diagnosis of incomplete abortion, an induced abortion. I examined her vagina. There, I saw bleeding from two lesions. I knew this was not an incomplete abortion but I didn’t know what it was. So, having no idea what I was seeing, I called my attending physician. He quickly recognized that the lesions were the result of chemical burns of the vagina.

He explained that this woman was the victim of a scam, that went something like this. A “doctor” would prep a woman for an abortion. Then the “doctor” placed potassium permanganate, a highly caustic element, into the woman’s vagina. Bleeding would ensue. The woman would believe that she was indeed aborting. What was actually happening, however, was that the blood was flowing from the burnt vagina, not from the uterus. By the time the woman realized she had been tricked, the crook would be long gone with her money. Badly injured, the devastated woman would require hospitalization.

In those days, when abortion was illegal, no one could ever admit to having participated in this procedure. Women had to lie about the cause of injury. A woman might well swear that nothing had happened to her. And she would not be believed.

I was horrified. It was unbelievable that someone would inflict such an injury upon another that could have fatal results. Unfortunately, during the era preceding Roe v. Wade, appalling acts such as this were too prevalent.


Dr. Foster’s autobiography is: Make a Difference: The Founder of I Have a Future Program Shares His Vision for Young America