When we say legal=safe isn’t true…

A Montreal-area woman has a brush with death after second-trimester abortion. The story is in French, but you can find a good translation here.

In a nutshell: This 19-year-old woman, who already has one baby, doesn’t want to carry her second one to term. Because she’s past 12 weeks, she’s referred to a clinic that specializes in late-term abortions. She stays in the recovery room for 2 hours after the procedure, then gets up to go to the bathroom. There, she notices heavy bleeding. She tells the nurse, who sends her home anyway.

Understandably worried, she prefers not to stay home alone. So she accompanies her boyfriend on some errand. In the car she realizes the bleeding is getting worse and so is the pain. They head for the hospital. At that point there is a gush of blood with every step she takes (“À chaque pas que je faisais, ça coulait,” is how she put it). She received emergency surgery and blood transfusion. She says she was told in the hospital that if she’d gotten there five minutes later, she might not have made it.

The 19-year-old woman does not know whether she’ll be able to have more children.


First of all, let me concede that the reason this story made the news is because it’s so rare. But “rare” doesn’t mean “impossible”. Indeed, the story quotes a spokesperson from the Centre de santé Jeanne-Mance, a clinic that provides abortions, to the effect that, well, you know, of course there are risks related to abortion.

Les responsables du Centre de santé Jeanne-Mance assurent que toutes les mesures sont prises pour limiter les cas de complications graves, mais qu’ils font partie des risques d’une interruption volontaire de grossesse.

«Des saignements liés à l’avortement, c’est dans la normalité des choses. Est-ce qu’il y a des complications à chaque fois qu’il y a une chirurgie ? Bien sûr que non», indique Suzanne Carrière, directrice des services spécifiques au CSSS Jeanne-Mance.

Sans commenter directement le cas de Christelle Dupuis-Labelle, la directrice indique que les patients reçoivent un guide de 16 pages d’information en lien avec l’intervention. Tout ce qui touche d’éventuelles complications s’y trouve, ainsi qu’un numéro en cas d’urgence.

My translation: Bleeding after an abortion, that’s normal. Are there complications with each surgery? Of course not. The spokesperson adds that patients receive a 16-page guide before an abortion that includes information about possible complications and a phone number to call in case of emergency.

Did I tell you about my root canal last year? Probably not. It’s not that interesting. But I had a root canal last year. That’s a lucrative business, judging from the bill they handed me (it had four digits before the decimal point; I hated the whole thing). You’d think these people had an incentive to just do one root canal after another and send patients home quickly to make room for more paying patients, right? But no. Not only did the doctor who did my root canal explain, in painstaking detail, what would happen and why, I had to listen to a little lesson about possible risks and sign a whole bunch of papers saying I understood the risks and was OK with them. I was also told that there might be some pain once things thawed, but that if the pain didn’t go away after a day or so (or maybe it was 2 days, I forget), not to hesitate to give them a call. They scared the dickens out of me with those warnings, but other than burning a fine whole in my wallet the procedure did not cause me undue pain or discomfort.

I’m guessing that’s because dentists are both pro-tooth and pro-paying-patient.

I never had an abortion, and never asked for one, so I don’t have first-hand knowledge of how it goes. But I’d be curious to know. Is it more, or less, elaborate than for my root canal?

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