February 15, 2013 — Even if some people are opposed to abortions late in pregnancy, such as the one "that preceded the death of a woman in Maryland last week, ... everyone should be opposed to the blatantly illegal violation of her privacy and the exploitation of her death by protesters using it to make a point," Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak writes.
The woman, a 29-year-old teacher from New York, "was 33 weeks pregnant, married and wanted very much to have a child," Dvorak writes. No information has been released about the cause of death or why the woman sought an abortion last week from physician LeRoy Carhart at the Women's Reproductive Center in Germantown, Md. According to Dvorak, what is known is that after the abortion, the woman was taken to a nearby hospital and died the following morning. State authorities are investigating the death, she adds.
The fact that something happened to prompt the woman and her husband to seek an abortion of a wanted pregnancy "is a tragedy all alone," Dvorak writes. But then, the "day after her death, protesters gathered outside the clinic with her name, big posters of her photo and grim details about her medical history and procedures," she adds.
Dvorak questions how protesters obtained private, legally protected personal health information about the woman and other details they claim are facts. She notes the protesters did not know the woman personally, the "relatives of the young woman didn't talk to" the protesters. Unless the information came from the clinic, the hospital is the "only other possible source of such sensitive information," but "the hospital can't even confirm that she was there or that she died there."
Dvorak continues, "The protesters are exploiting this woman's death and making other women think that their privacy is never truly protected when they seek an abortion," adding, "This is not the way to reduce or end abortion. All it does is add to the suffering of a grieving family. And it is cruel" (Dvorak, Washington Post, 2/14).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership