“Manual” abortion not only removes the unwanted pregnancy, but also claims the lives of the mothers. That’s a hefty price to pay for ignorance.
The tragic death
In September 2011, the police of Mai Chau district, Hoa Binh province said that Ms. Kha Thi B, 18 years old, a resident in Nghe village, Van Mai commune died of an abortion.
Forensic autopsy results showed that the victim had uterine perforation at the waist, punctured vagina, hematoma at the waist muscle near the spine, mesenteric tear, vaginal bleeding and bleeding in abdomen, and she died of acute blood loss.
On July 29, 2007 Ms. Vi Thi X from Tien Phong commune, Que Phong district, Nghe An province, was hospitalized in a coma, fluid under the skin. The patient died during the first aid, also because of manual abortion.
It was identified that the woman came to see a local herbalist for an abortion. A few days after that, she had severe abdominal pain. She was brought to hospital but doctors could not save her.
One day later, also in Nghe An, Ms. Lo Thi Them, 44, a resident of Don Phat village, Cam Muon commune also died from manual abortion at the home of a herbalist in Chau Thon commune, Nghe An.
Ms. Nguyen Thi D, from Thai Binh province, died of manual abortion in Hoa Binh province. Forensic examination revealed that from her vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, all were decayed and black as mud. There were signs of severe sepsis in all organs.
Another maternal complication case due to manual abortion in Hoa Binh is Thanh, 42, from Com village, Lien Vu commune, Lac Son district, Hoa Binh province. She went to a local herbalist, 80, to break the 4-month-old pregnancy. As a result, Ms. H. admitted to hospital in a state of hemorrhaging, infection, and was transfused with 600ml of blood.
Abortion with holy water
All these tragic cases are derived from a single cause: abortion with unsafe methods, using sticks, inhalant and herbal medicine.
Looking back at the history of mankind, when medicine was undeveloped, the world used various ways of abortion. The most common of which was the use of plants such as: erigeron, pungent mint and others. The use of plants to abort caused serious side effects.
In Egypt, Greece, ancient people also used mercury as a magic pill. In Southeast Asia, abortion was made by creating forces in the stomach. A bas-relief at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, in 1150, shows a demon causing miscarriage by using a pestle to strike the stomach of a pregnant woman. In addition, they also used sharp objects such as needles and hangers to insert into the uterus to destroy the fetus.
But it is very odd that in this 21st century, people voluntarily let quacks perform unsafe abortion measures.
The most important reason is that the victims in these cases all lack of knowledge about sex resulting in unwanted pregnancy. They were ashamed and they went to quacks to abandon the unwanted babies, where abortion is not recognized by law in order to avoid the public but could not avoid death.
In Yen Phu commune, Lac Son district, Hoa Binh province, we were truly creepy horror in the way of abortion applied by Mrs. Bui Thi E, 80, who caused abortion complications for Thanh, 42.
In a tumbledown thatched hut that had nothing worthwhile except for a red painted altar and an old wooden bed, E performed abortion procedures for a lot of people with “holy water” and “mulberry sticks.”
According to a victim, first, E prayed in front of the altar and took a bottle of water from the altar to give it to the patient. She said: “It is holy water, remember to drink it three times a day.” Actually, the “holy water” is … ginger juice.
The next step, she used a knife to cut a dried mulberry branch of around 7cm long, one end sharpened, the other end was tied with catgut. It is most frightening when she told the patient to take off her pants and lie on the bed to poke the sticks into the vagina until it reach the fetus. She left the stick inside the vagina, only leaving the rope out and told: “When the stick falls out, you do not have to drink the holy water.”
Later that day, the patient had stomachache. Five days later, the fetus fell out but at the same time she also had her uterus cut because of severe infection.
That “measure” was also applied by a herbalist in Cham Mat, Hoa Binh city and Mr. Bui Van Lon, 60, in Thu Phong commune, Cao Phong district, Hoa Binh. In 2004, he was sentenced because of doing abortions with sticks. However, he still practiced abortion illegally.
Mrs. Vi Thi Quyet in Nghe An, who was hailed as “being very ingenious in abortion,” performed hundreds of abortions and also caused the death for Vi Thi X (Tien Phong commune, Que Phong, Nghe An).
This woman often used a small piece of rod like a medicated motorcycle spoke of about 10cm long, to insert into the cervix to make abortion.
A village nurse named Quang Ba Tong in Quanh village, Chau Thon commune, Que Phong district, Nghe An had a more special way: tying two condoms together to the tip of a plastic tube and inserting into the uterus to pump inhalant for Mrs. Lo Thi Them.
Also, in Ung Hoa District, Hanoi, a quack used the torch body as a speculum and bending bicycle spokes to pull fetus out. Yet he could still practice this trick for years.
There are also cases of abortion by herbs, which are not proved by sciences for abortion use. Today, not only the young people in the remote areas, but even women in the capital still use herbs for abortion.
What is the cause?
According to doctor Hoang Thi Tam, from Lac Son district hospital, Hoa Binh province, most of the women who saw quacks for abortions are underage or single so they were afraid to go to clinics. Besides, a part of them lacked knowledge or they were too poor to go to hospital.
According to statistics, Vietnam is one of the three countries with the highest abortion rates in the world, with 20 cases of abortion a day on average, of which 20 – 30% in the adolescent group.
Based on that we need to promote the education of minors, enhance the dissemination and communication on reproductive health, safe sex, contraceptive methods and family planning in the remote areas. Especially we have to strengthen the management of illegal abortion services.