By Sarah Terzo
Abortionist John Bayard Britton set up shop doing abortions as soon as they were legalized. He improvised his own tools.
As soon as the Supreme Court wrote Roe v. Wade into law, he applied some heat to the shaft of a ballpoint pen, fashioned it into a cannula (the stiff tube that’s inserted through the cervix during an abortion), attached the cannula to a hose and the hose to a small vacuum and went into business. In the Ladies Center, although the cannula is a long plastic tube, rather than the body of a ballpoint pen, and the vacuum is a large beige box fitted with hoses and gauges, rather than a small gray cylinder, there is still something ramshackle about Doc, something improvisatory and unsettled.
From Tom Junod, “THE ABORTIONIST.” GQ February 1994.
This slapped together abortion machine was not sterile and likely put women at risk. The abortionist couldn’t wait for proper tools before cashing in on legalized abortion.