Weekly Review — August 21, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Astrophysicists found evidence that the speed of light and other laws of nature might have changed over time. Donald Rumsfeld, the American secretary of defense, explained that his much-ballyhooed “revolution in military affairs” was not a revolution at all but was instead a “transformation”: “When they see that word,” he explained, seeking to comfort critics in Congress and among the troops, “there’s a tendency to think that you go from this to something different.” In fact, he said, you can do something rather modest, like improve communications, which “could be characterized as transformed or transformational.” President George W. Bush declared that peace would come to the Middle East only after everyone stopped fighting. Arab leaders warned that extremists might come to power in their countries if America didn’t do something about the conflict in Palestine. President Bush was worrying about vampires. Poultry companies were planning to make billions of chickenclones. A giant sea turtle that was being tracked via satellite by thousands of schoolchildren was barbecued and eaten at a fiesta in a Mexican village. Slobodan Milosevic turned 60.Megawati Sukarnoputri, the new president of Indonesia, acknowledged the independence of East Timor for the first time and apologized to residents of Aceh and Irian Jaya for their suffering under “inappropriate national policies.”

Khieu Samphan, a former Khmer Rouge leader, apologized for the deaths of a million people but said he hadn’t known about it at the time: “My mistake was that I was too naive and was out of touch with the real situation.” Twenty Koreans chopped off the tips of their little fingers and chanted “Apologize! Apologize!” to protest a visit by Japan’s prime minister to a shrine honoring Japan’s dead soldiers. A Japanese mummy was found in the Alps. Ireland’s deputy arts minister said that the Irish are “among the biggest boozers on the planet.” Citizens of Sierra Leone were asked to stop throwing stones and jeering at former dictator Valentine Strasser, who was recently deported from Britain, as he wanders around the streets of Freetown. An Oklahoma prison inmate tried to escape by hiding in the outgoing trash and was crushed to death in a garbage truck. A Zambian archbishop renounced his marriage, which was performed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and reconciled with the Pope, who had threatened to excommunicate him; the bishop’s wife said her husband was a prisoner of the Vatican and went on a hunger strike. A 35,000-page report on the life of Mother Teresa was being prepared for the Vatican by people who want to see the dead nun declared a saint. The Rev. Al Sharpton got out of jail. Representative Gary Condit, the very good friend of missing intern Chandra Ann Levy, was planning a fund-raiser to begin repairing his image. Princess Diana’s former butler was charged with stealing a diverse collection of objects from the royal family including “an Indiana Jones bullwhip,” snapshots and cards from “Mummy” to her boys, Versace handbags, a book, a pepper grinder, recordings of Abba, Phil Collins, Neil Diamond, Elton John, and Leo Sayer, and an autographed picture of David Hasselhoff.

It was discovered that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans, the world’s most widely grown genetically engineered crop, contain a weird strand of DNA that the company cannot explain ?? right next to the bacterial DNA that was inserted to protect the plant from the herbicide Roundup. Canadianresearchers found that different varieties of genetically modified crops such as rapeseed have spread over great distances and have interbred with one another, spawning superweeds that are almost impossible to kill since they are resistant to many herbicides. Women finally got equal rights in Brazil. Magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal were carrying advertisements for drugs such as Ritalin in their back-to-school issues. Celltech Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Metadate CD, an attention-deficit-disorder drug, was using a cartoon superhero in its brochures: “A new hero for ADHD patients is here!”A baked potato exploded backstage at the Royal Opera House in London; the audience was evacuated safely. Scientists working for a Peruvian pharmaceuticals company found that eating maca, an Andean plant similar to a turnip, can increase a man’s sex drive by 200 percent. Fidel Castro turned 75. Senator Jamilah Ibrahim of Malaysia, in what he said was an incest-prevention measure, called for a ban on women working at night so they can stay home and fulfill their conjugal duties. The Irish Republican Army withdrew its recent offer to disarm. Russian surgeons grew a replacement penis on the arm of a sixteen-year-old boy. Constipation was linked to Parkinson’s disease. In New Zealand, a man with one ear slipped on some ice and drowned in his cat’s water bowl. NATO troops entered Macedonia. American planes bombed Iraq. A new school for gladiators opened in Rome.

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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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Photograph (detail) by Brian Frank
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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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The Lords of Lambeau·

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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.

Photograph (detail) by Balazs Gardi
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"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.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley

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