Lives Saved, One Heart at a Time

Baby at 12 weeks gestationLet me tell you about a pretty, young teenager whom I delivered 16 years earlier. She had gotten pregnant and gone to our city’s Planned Parenthood abortion chamber. They told her yes, she was pregnant and made an appointment for her to come back for an abortion. In a classic Freudian slip, she left the appointment card lying on the dining room table at home. Her mother found it just as her father came through the door. Everything happened. Her mother cried. Her father said a few things he probably shouldn’t have, and she stamped out of the house. She wouldn’t have them telling her what to do. When she did come back later, they talked and talked. Her parents opposed the abortion, but she was bound and determined to have one. Finally they settled on a compromise.

If Mary Lou would go to see Dr. Willke—she had never known another doctor—and let me talk to her, then her parents would accept her decision. A couple of days later, after I had been duly forewarned by her parents, Mary Lou came to my office. Her jaw was set as she sat there, literally daring me to try to change her mind. First, I did a pelvic examination and confirmed that she was pregnant, about 10 or 11 weeks along. There sat a very defiant young lady. I said, “Mary Lou, did they tell you what you are carrying, what is inside you?” “Yes, they had a model of a uterus and they showed me how they would gently suck out the pregnancy tissue.”

Well, I had one of those models and showed it to her. Yes, that was it. I often wondered why they use the one with an empty womb. I then picked up my photo album which contains ten 5 by 7 inch full-color photos of developing babies. Underneath each picture, each on separate pages, are listed the facts of development and function at that age. I gently said, “Mary Lou, I think you’ll later be able to live much more at peace with yourself if you know beforehand what is inside of you. Will you look at these pictures?”

Ever so reluctantly she took the album and opened it. Six weeks: A tiny little developing baby held up in a teardrop sack. She turned the page. Eight weeks: A very recognizable baby in a little bubble. Eleven weeks: (that’s where she was) a tiny little baby in the palm of a doctor’s hand, the baby still sucking his thumb. She turned the other page and then came back to the eleven-week baby. She looked at it and finally, ever so slowly, closed the album, laid it in her lap and then dissolved in a heap of hysterical tears. Finally she looked up at me and said “Dr. Willke, they didn’t tell me it was a baby. I can’t kill my baby.”

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