Weekly Review — July 31, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The United States decided not to sign a new anti-germ-warfare treaty, bringing to at least five the number of international agreements the U.S. has rejected in recent years, including the Kyoto Protocol, the Landmine Convention, the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. President George W. Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin agreed to work toward a disarmament framework that would reduce nuclear weapons while allowing the U.S. its missile-defense scheme; a few days before their discussion, Putin remarked that Bush was “a fairly good-hearted person, nice to talk to, I would even say . . . even a little bit sentimental.” Secretary of State Colin Powell played a cowboy in love for a skit marking the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference; his Vietnamese paramour was portrayed by Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka. Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid finally ended his occupation of the presidential palace nearly a week after his impeachment. In his last press interview before flying to the U.S. Wahid predicted dark times ahead for Indonesia but ended with a joke about the difference between American and Japanesefarmers. Scientists reported that the human brain responds differently to faces of different races; African Americans were found to recognize all races rather easily, but whites generally had a hard time recognizing any but white faces. The Serbian government confirmed that three blindfolded bodies found in a mass grave were those of Albanian-American brothers sentenced to fifteen days’ imprisonment for entering Yugoslavia without visas. The playwright Harold Pinter joined the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, saying the former Yugoslav leader’s detention at The Hague is illegal. Seventeen Brazilians broke out of prison using a cardboard gun. A watermelon rigged with a bomb inside was left on an Israelibus; the fruit was detonated safely.

One of the world’s largest paintings, by French fauvist Raoul Dufy, was found to be coated in cancer-causing asbestos; the Paris Museum of Modern Art will spend a million dollars scraping it off. A report funded by Philip Morris to dissuade the Czech Republic from raising cigarette taxes was made public. The study helpfully pointed out that the country saves hundreds of millions of dollars in housing, health care, and pensions for former smokers who no longer require such services, because they’re dead. Blood-sucking bedbugs, “the new scourge of America,” were said to be thriving in luxury hotels. Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State, decided to run for Congress. A Britishstudy found that 80 percent of women fake orgasms during intercourse. Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s Dear Leader, while on a train to Moscow to meet with President Putin, promised that his country won’t shoot missiles at the United States. Three Frenchmen, carrying five grams of uranium-235, were arrested for trafficking in nuclear material. The largest teachers union in the U.S. decided to offer $150,000 homicide insurance policies to the families of teachers killed on the job. Authorities in Kashmir banned the use of the word “widow” in official records, claiming that the term only deepens the women’s depression. Five million Afghans, one fifth of the country’s population, were reported to have little or no access to food due to drought and civil war. A woman filed a $100,000 suit against the makers of Pop Tarts after a tart ignited and caused a fire in her home. Norwegians were preparing to sell millions of tons of edible whale blubber to Japan. Queen Elizabeth’s husband told a 13-year-old boy he was too fat to be an astronaut. A survey found that children today are more spoiled than they used to be. Japanesescientists invented a bionic suit to help nurses lift patients. Three genetically modified pigs stolen from a U.S. university were made into sausage by an unsuspecting butcher.

Pope John Paul II advised President Bush that the use of stem cells for research is an evil akin to infanticide; Bush reassured the pope that he would think long and hard about his own opinion: “My process has been, frankly, unusually deliberative for my administration.” A German court ruled a Hamburg citizen incapable of managing his affairs after he tipped a waiter $11,000 for a cup of coffee; the court impounded the tip. The House voted to reject Bush’s recommendations for increased arsenic in drinking water, returning instead to levels established under President Clinton. New Zealand officials dropped 120 tons of rat poison on Campbell Island. A nanny was fined $50 by a New York Citypolice officer after her three-year-old ward peed on a tree. Hot lava spilled through the streets of Sicily. Earth Wind & Fire was launching a new tour sponsored by Viagra. Researchers found that female cockroaches become much less choosy about their mates as they get older. A 511-million-year-old crab was found in England. A 15-year-old Boy Scout in Utah ripped out dinosaur tracks, believed to be 200 million years old, and tossed them into a reservoir. A pair of seagulls in London were terrorizing bald people.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Artwork by Imre Kinszki © Imre Kinszki Estate
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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

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