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Matters of the heart
The last year of my nursing school was probably the most exciting time of my life. Years of exams and clinical instruction were about to come to an end. Another chapter of my life was unfolding; I was five months pregnant, a miracle in itself.
I had my last clinical instruction at one of the country’s largest trauma and teaching hospitals. The building covered miles and miles of land. I had never seen anything like that in my life. Our group was lucky because our instructor was director of nursing at the hospital .
On this particular day, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. After going through the mundane process of being searched as a security routine to protect babies, we were reminded of our duty as mandated reporters, obligated to report any kind of abuse, perceived or real.
The unit was a very beautiful place; collages made by some of the little ones decorated the walls. Messages of hope written all over made this otherwise sad place, homely.
“We are going to the abortion clinic today” announced the instructor. My heart skipped a beat when I heard the announcement. I looked up and our eyes met. She must have seen the expression of awe on my face “Molly, I understand how you may be feeling due to your pregnancy… it is okay for you to stay on the unit” she said with a reassuring voice… thank you madam, but what is an abortion clinic?” I asked. “Well, this is a teaching hospital and anything goes” she explained. “Yes?” I prompted her to continue and spare me no details “every day, thirty abortions are carried out. The only criterion is that the pregnancy should be under twelve weeks, no questions asked”.
As the rest of the group walked away, a myriad of questions went through my mind. I clasped my belly tight as I felt the kicks of the miracle of life unfolding within. How can the world be so cruel? Why would one want to abort? How could this place do such heinous crimes? Whatever happened to the sanctity of life? I was interrupted by my instructor for the day” Hello, are you ready for fun? I have an interesting case for you”. I forced a smile and followed her.
She handed me a chart at the nursing station “read this to familiarize yourself with the patient and then I will give you report. That’s the best policy, not everyone is good at giving thorough reports Remember this, always”. “Yes, ma’am, I responded”
The patient’s name was Gabby Hicks. She came to the clinic for a routine abortion. Per protocol, an ultrasound was done and it showed a hydatiform mole which was evacuated .As expected, the pregnancy hormones remained high. She had to be kept longer for observation to rule out cancer. Bruises were also seen all over her trunk. She was withdrawn and unwilling to talk to anyone, possible signs of sexual or domestic abuse. Gabby stayed at home with her mother and four other siblings.
My preceptor had no idea that I was pregnant and I decided to keep this to myself and help in the care of Gabby. “Are you ready for report now?” she asked and I responded with “actually, no. Maybe I Should give you report?”. “Good idea” she responded. After filling her in with what I had picked out from the chart, we walked into the room to introduce ourselves. My eyes were met by a small twelve year old girl, curled up in bed in a fetal position. I forced a smile and stretched my hand to greet her. She did not make a move .I responded with a “that is fine, I too feel like not being bothered sometimes. I will just sit here just in case you need anything”. As I was about to make myself comfortable, a mean looking woman walked into the room. She asked me in a threatening demeanor “and you are?” I said “ooh, hey… Molly….. My name is molly, a nursing student and I am helping nurse J., to take care of your daughter? …is that ok? “Of course, be our guest” she announced and I sighed with relief.
One thing led to another and before I knew it, the woman who had introduced herself as Gabby’s mother was talking nonstop. All of a sudden she lowered her voice “did they tell you that they are trying to figure out the bruises?” I nodded and in disbelief I heard her say “you want to know the truth?” she asked, but I froze in place and had no courage to respond. You could have heard a pin drop and then she broke the silence “I work very hard to give them a better life. I made the mistake of having them while young and I am trying to protect her from the pain. She has no business sleeping around; twelve year olds spend their time jumping rope….” Tears run down her cheeks. Was that consent to the crime? I wondered.
I was about to reach out to comfort her when an entourage of five people walked into the room. They introduced themselves as Dr. S the pediatrician, Ms. P the social worker, Ms. Z, the Nurse Manager, and two others from the Department of child protection services. “Madam, where did the bruises on your child’s body come from?” asked the social worker as the rest just observed. In a defiant voice she responded “my daughter is twelve and she can talk, ask her”. Out of options she asked Gabby, “did someone cause those bruises on your body?” With an expressionless face Gabby responded “nobody”. After multiple attempts to coerce Gabby’s mother into self incrimination, they decided to leave Well, I guess this case is closed, time for the next assignment. I have a bunch of eager interns waiting to perform their first abortions” announced the doctor as he walked away followed by the rest.
My teacher appeared at the exact same time and announced “time to go home “As I walked out, I looked at Gabby, I looked at her mother and I looked at the entourage. “Tell the truth, tell the truth, you are a mandated reporter the child needs justice”. These words ran through my head and then I remembered at another side of the unit were thirty girls lined up to end a life. Everyone was aware of and it was ok. When does a life begin? What is right? Where does my job as a mandated reporter begin or end? Could I have done more for this child? What difference would it make? Where do we draw the line between disciplining with anger and abuse?
This special story from Molly is a disturbing account of abuse, child pregnancy and issues concerning pro life & a woman ‘s right to abort. ( in this case a 12 year old child), a serious aside from clara54’s usual, that’s for sure. Would love to hear readers input on the subject. Thanks Molly… ALL names have been changed in this story per patient’s privacy laws!