Weekly Review — October 16, 2001, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The United Nations suspended its food convoys into Afghanistan because of the American bombing campaign. U.S. forces dropped over 100,000 yellow ration packets into Afghanistan, where there are thought to be 7.5 million people facing starvation. Each packet, decorated with an American flag, contains one day’s worth of food, a book of matches, and a Moist Towelette: “Here is your Moist Towelette,” the packet says in English. “It will clean and refresh your hands and face without soap and water. Self-dries in seconds, leaving your skin smooth and soft.” Jean Ziegler, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, said the food drop was “totally catastrophic for humanitarian aid” because it links such aid with military operations; he also warned that the indiscriminate “snowdropping” of food could lead hungry children into mine fields. As a result of a “targeting process error,” an American bomb went astray and landed in a residential neighborhood in Kabul. Tom Brokaw’s assistant at NBC Nightly News tested positive for cutaneous anthrax; another case turned up at a Microsoft office in Reno, Nevada. The F.B.I. was notified on September 28 about the suspicious envelope at NBC but didn’t get around to testing it until a private doctor treating the victim called the New York City health department. Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been hiding out in an undisclosed location, observed that there might be a connection between the anthrax cases and the September 11attacks. The image of Bert from Sesame Street showed up in an Osama bin Laden poster used by protesters in Pakistan; “This is not at all humorous,” said a spokesman for the Sesame Workshop. Rush Limbaugh lost his hearing. The major American television networks agreed, out of patriotism, they said, to a request by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice not to broadcast future statements by Osama bin Laden; Rice said she was concerned about secret messages being communicated to “sleeper” terrorists in the United States but did not reveal how she would prevent such evil-doers from viewing the speech via the Internet or satellite television.Tom Ridge, the new head of “homeland” security, was sworn in at the White House, where he told friends and supporters that “Liberty is the most precious gift we offer our citizens.”

Thousands of children in public and private schools across the country simultaneously pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America in what might have been the largest mass recitation in history outside the People’s Republic of China. President Bush was still trying to exploit the terroristattacks as an excuse to drill for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. House Republicans were opposing legislation that would federalize national airport security because they didn’t want to see an increase in the federal payroll. Argenbright Holdings Ltd., an airport security contractor, was in trouble again for hiring convicted felons to screen passengers at Philadelphia International Airport; the company, which last year was fined $1.2 million and placed on probation for a related offense, has also committed major violations at La Guardia, Logan, Dulles, Los Angeles, and Reagan National airports. Two cops in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were in trouble for using a police helicopter to make a doughnut run. The crew of an Austrian military helicopter landed their aircraft in the parking lot of a wine bar near the Slovenian border, walked inside, and ordered lunch. Terrorist Mohamed Atta’s father told reporters that he always thought his son was too girlish. A commuter plane crashed in Alaska, killing nine people. DuPont Lycra unveiled the Wonderbum, a new kind of panty hose that “lifts, separates and shapes,” giving its wearer “a perfectly peachy, pert bottom.” Unfortunately, only two prototypes of the hose had yet been produced. Russian sailors raised the sunken submarine Kursk and were greeted by a pod of dolphins swimming in formation.

President Leonid Kuchma finally admitted that Ukraine accidentally shot down a commercial Russian airliner, but said that mistakes happen everywhere: “Look around the world, in Europe; we are not the first and not the last.”Independent Prosecutor Robert Ray filed his final report on the personal misconduct of Bill Clinton. New York City began dumping 60 million gallons of sewage a day into Brooklyn’s Jamaica Bay while a treatment plant is temporarily closed for repairs. Officials claimed that environmental damage would be “minimal. ” Nine pilot whales beached themselves on Pensacola Beach in Florida. Homemade bombs made of Drano and foil were thrown at peace supporters at the University of Wisconsin. Anthrax, the heavy metal band, decided not to change its name even though it was making the band members feel bad. A new survey found that 52 percent of American women prefer shopping to sex; 93 percent of men prefer sex. Most Germans prefer quickies to slow, gentle lovemaking, a study found. Lothar Machtan, a German historian, revealed that Hitler was gay. Crowds of fishermen in Germany were trying to catch a giant catfish that ate a pet dachshund in a lake near Moenchengladbach. In Nigeria, a pregnant woman was sentenced to death by stoning for the crime of premarital sex. Secretary General Kofi Annan shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations. A car bomb went off in Madrid. American life expectancy was up. There was an outbreak of dengue fever in Hawaii. Citrus canker was spreading in Florida.

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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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