Editor's Note: Our Jan. 8 cover story "No Choice" provoked much response from readers in the New Orleans area and across the country. Some wrote to support Erica's original decision for abortion, while others saw a hero in Bill Graham, the man Erica says contributed to circumstances that prevented her from getting an abortion. Writer Katy Reckdahl also received email not intended for publication, including letters from several couples offering to adopt Erica's baby.

lies and lawsuits

Janie," age 37, underwent an abortion in New Orleans on March 6, 1974. Five days later, she died from an apparent overdose of drugs administered to her during the abortion. She was the mother of three children. [Jefferson Parish, 4th Judicial District Court, Case No. 168162; Orleans Parish autopsy report No. 974-3-89]

On July 29, 1984, "Beverly" underwent an abortion in New Orleans. On Aug. 7, due to severe pain, Beverly sought follow-up care from the abortionist who had done the original procedure. During this follow-up, he performed a tubal ligation on her without her knowledge or consent. [Orleans Parish Civil District Court Division C docket No. 85-12171]

It's interesting that attorney William Rittenberg could not recall these lawsuits against some of our local baby butchers when he mentioned the malpractice suit won by Tanya Mayeaux against Causeway Medical Suite in the Gambit Weekly article "No Choice" by Katy Reckdahl in the Jan. 8 issue.

These cases are but two of many lawsuits against abortionists here and elsewhere that have been well-documented by such groups as Life Dynamics Inc., suits that were more than frivolous to the women who were butchered by these legalized baby killers. The book Lime 5 by Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics Inc. has case after case after case of totally unnecessary injuries and deaths, such as the two mentioned above. Attorney Rittenberg could have also offered these to the readers of Gambit Weekly as evidence of serious lawsuits, like that of Mayeaux, against abortionists here and elsewhere, but his memory apparently failed him here, too.

Rittenberg is probably correct when he says that he wins most, if not all, of the malpractice lawsuits brought against the abortionists he defends. The abortion industry usually does win suits brought against them, either by the women injured by their legal abortions or by their next of kin, not because of the frivolous nature of the lawsuits. This is because the abortion industry usually, if not always, employs the time-tested, ever-popular Clintonian defense that the women who are bringing these lawsuits, or in whose memory these lawsuits are brought, were simply "nuts and sluts." Most women or their next of kin simply drop the suits instead of subjecting themselves and their families to further degradation at the hands of the abortion industry's legal mouthpieces.

Aiding the "nuts and sluts" defense of the abortion industry against malpractice are articles, such as the one by Reckdahl, which demonize people, such as William Graham, for what they did to save the life of a child from the local baby butcher -- a child that will bring a lot of joy and happiness into the family that adopts the child and, possibly, spare the mother from serious injury or even death at the hands of a legal abortionist.

Terri Bartlett, past president of Planned Parenthood in Louisiana, says -- with a straight face, no doubt -- that Graham's "deception" of Erica was repugnant.

Legal abortion is based on lie after lie after lie. There is no deceit that Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in America, and the abortion industry in total will not engage in to keep abortion legal.

John M. Craven

NOW and Women's rights

The Greater New Orleans National Organization for Women chapter commends Gambit Weekly for its article titled "No Choice." It is important for people to be aware of the tactics of people like Bill Graham who want to keep women from receiving honest and correct information about their choices when facing an unplanned pregnancy. What Graham calls "disclosure" is, in reality, an obvious attempt at scaring and manipulating young women. His fraudulent actions should be considered criminal, and it is an outrage that he has been allowed to continue this behavior, unchecked, for so long.

At the core of reproductive rights is the principle that a woman has the right to decide whether and when to have a child. Today, access to abortion is virtually nonexistent for many women. Obtaining an abortion is dangerously difficult, if not impossible, for young women, poor women and women who receive health care from the federal government. If Graham really cared about women's health and welfare, as he claims to, he would be working for choice and not against it.

Jennifer L. Achilles


Victoria Cooke


The Greater New Orleans Chapter of the National Organization for Women

no choice or poor choices?

The headline "No Choice" should have read "Bad Choice." Was the point of the article to make us as readers feel sorry for this girl that couldn't get an abortion? Had she made good choices from the beginning she would not be where she is today: pregnant. Her first choice should have been to use birth control and secondly, when pregnant, to have gone to her insurance provider for a reference. Being a college student, she doesn't appear to be very bright.

The good choice would have been to ask fellow students, to speak with a parent, to go to student services, to speak with a counselor instead of a stranger on the phone. If she had wanted the abortion so urgently, she could have missed classes for one day to make an appointment. This article is a clear example of her "poor" choices. The blurb on the cover also should have read, "She was looking for help with her abortion," not "pregnancy." It was clearly an article for abortion.

Kim Bryson

fake clinics, false info

Many, many thanks for your "No Choice" cover story detailing a college student's ordeal trying to find legitimate abortion information in Louisiana. It is vitally important for the public to realize that Erica's experience was not unique. Rather, these kinds of lies and deception have been a front-line tactic for the anti-abortion movement for decades now.

There are fake clinics all over the country who set up shop next to the real ones, using almost identical names, and lure women in with promises of free pregnancy tests and accurate medical information. Instead, they tell their prey that the test will take at least half an hour to show results (which anyone who's ever taken an over-the-counter test can testify is absurd). They use the time to do everything they can to frighten her out of an abortion, usually by lying about the risks involved in the procedure and about the safety records of the local clinics.

As a clinic counselor in Alabama, I saw the results of these tactics time and again: women who could have had abortions at eight weeks ended up needing second-trimester procedures, which are much more expensive and sometimes take two days rather than a few minutes to complete. The patients were shocked to learn the truth of how abortions are really performed and furious at having been so badly lied to by "Christians," who were supposedly there to help them through difficult circumstances.

Erica's ordeal also highlights the results of the ongoing violence against abortion providers in this country. Not all the fanatical religious terrorists come from overseas: some are right here in this supposedly free and civilized nation, where doctors have to risk their lives to provide medical services for women. The well-justified fear of being shot through your living room window or blown up in your office keeps untold numbers of physicians from providing abortions. As a result, those who are willing and able to do so have limited appointments available and are simply unable to accommodate their patients' schedules. If you can't get to the clinic when the doctor is able to be there, you're just out of luck.

Nicole Youngman

an eye-opening article

Thank you for the article "No Choice." It was most informative and provided a glimpse of the circumstances confronting some of our country's best young women. I had no idea that there are individuals out there who perpetrate such cruel frauds on young women facing very difficult, personal decisions. My heart goes out to Erica, the subject of your article, as she faces a very difficult time in her life. I hope that she will be able to complete her education and pursue her goal of becoming a physician.

Shannon Giles

a moving story

Thank you for the moving story of Erica and the obstacles she faced while trying to secure an abortion. If I weren't so mad at all the people who put up hurdles, I'd be crying. I do hope that Erica will finally be able to make the best choice for herself at this point. It is a shame that anyone should ever have to go through the pain and hassle that Erica had to endure.

Veronica I. Arreola

graham a hero

I read your story about Bill Graham, abortion counselor. Graham sounds like a modern-day Oskar Schindler (Schindler's List) or Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place). Graham saves unwanted human lives in their mothers' wombs. Oskar Schindler and Corrie Ten Boom saved unwanted human lives (Jews) destined for the German death camps in World War II. All three are accused by some of using deception.

Oskar Schindler and Corrie Ten Boom are heroes for what they did. Will Bill Graham be also? He already is in my book.

Meredith Raney

a mother's love

I am so sorry for Erica. A child herself, in a strange city, she needed help and what Graham did caused her great personal emotional pain.

I am the mother of three young women. My middle daughter came very close to never existing. I discovered I was pregnant those many years ago at the same time that I realized the last-chance reconciliation between her father and me just wasn't working. I already had a 9-year-old and knew well that along with the decision to keep this child went the lifelong commitment involved in parenting.

I don't know how it's done now, but 22 years ago, a woman was counseled, then -- if quite certain of her choice -- three days later, the abortion was performed. I labored longer and harder with the choice to give birth than I did giving birth. That was my personal choice, the balance between my constitutional rights, my heart and my soul. Many years later, I did an internship with child protective, as well as juvenile, services. I would suggest that pro-life fundamentalists make themselves available to the court systems as foster parents or child advocates or donate money for the psychiatric services and funerals of some of the unwanted children of our society.

On a final note: if one of my daughters discovered she was pregnant and did not want to give birth, if she called me to talk, I would listen. If she wanted me to help her weigh her options, I would. If she told me abortion was her final decision, I would offer to accompany her. Why? Because I clearly had the right once to produce or deny my daughters' lives. And in deciding to bring them into the world, I also made the personal choice to commit my heart, faith and strength to them always and forever.

Name Withheld by Request