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Werlnesday, November 10, 1992The Daily Tar Heel5
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Procedure is quick, but it determines a patient 's future
By KIM WOOD
Special to the DTH
It only takes about five minutes. A thin
tube is inserted through an enlarged cervix,
and a strong suction, known medically as
"vacuum aspiration," quickly removes the
contents of the uterus.
This operation, which most women do
not consider extremely painful, is usually
followed by a quick physical recovery. Of
the approximate 30,000 abortions in North
Carolina in 1981, more than 90 percent
were conducted by vacuum aspiration.
The whole procedure takes no more than
several hours, and it can be done in a doc
tor's office or clinic for about $200.
It is a procedure with which many
women students on the UNC campus are
familiar. During the spring semester,
about 100 students underwent this or some
other type of abortion, Student Health
Service statistics show. About the same
number of abortions is expected this
semester. These figures come only from
those who report pregnancies. No one
knows how many go unreported.
It is a trend that, according to these
reported figures, has remained fairly
steady on campus during the last five
years. But statewide, the number of
women between the ages of 15 and 44 who
became pregnant and had an abortion rose
nearly 70 percent from 1974 to 1980 (the
last year for which figures are available).
The rate also rose among women be
tween 20 and 24 years old. In Orange
County, which has one of the highest
abortion rates in the state, about half the
women between the ages of 20 and 24 who
became pregnant had an abortion.
Experimental films tonight at 8
By TODD DAVIS
Staff Writer '
Joe Toast and Jane Blank go on a date
to MegaMall Cinema, lay down four
bucks each and watch An Officer and A
Yet, beyond the great mall movie walls,
there lurk other types of movies. These
other movies are made without studios,
stars or People magazine. Instead of
Hollywood formula, these alternative
movies reflect the director's personal vi
sion regardless of whether the movie has
any understandable dialogue, characters
or plot. Defying easy categories, these
movies generally are called "experimental
What is an experimental film? No one
knows for sure. Perhaps the best answer
is to go and see an experimental film
tonight at 8 in the Union Auditorium as
the Union Film Committee presents Ex
perimental Film Night. Movies featured
include Murder Psalm, a film about
matricide by Stan Brakhage, Serene
Velocity, which depicts the changing
structural perspectives of a hallway, by
Ernie Gehr, and Breath, which addresses
filming the wind, by Andre Zdravic.
When watching experimental films for
the first time, one must be careful, said
Tom Whiteside, a local filmmaker in
terested in experimental films. "You
shouldn't expect an experimental film to
be like going to a regular movie theater
and watching Star Wars," Whiteside
said. "Watching experimental films is
more like seeing an exhibit in an art
Most students opt for abortioa simply
because they feel it is pragmatic under the
circumstances, counselors said. For those
who do go through with their pregnancies,
they may have to quit school or change
their plans for the future. Of UNC stu
dents who reported pregnancies last
semester, only 20 percent decided to con
tinue their pregnancies.
But if abortion is pragmatic, it generally
is not taken lightly. Student attitudes to
ward abortion are influenced by a number
of things, including personal values,
religious background and opinions of
friends and boyfriends.
"There's frequently sadness and griev
ing over the loss of the pregnancy," said
Pam Walters, head of problem pregnancy
counseling at SHS. Since most women ex
pect to become pregnant at some time,
there is often regret over the timing.
One 23-year-old woman had been using
an intrauterine device for three years.
Pregnancy was the last thing she expected.
"I was very shocked, " she said, her
dark blue eyes widening. "I felt kind of
backed against a wall . . . like I'd done
everything I could and it still happened. I
kept thinking, 'No, it can 't be that, it can 't
She decided to have an abortion the
same day she found out she was pregnant.
"I didn't think that emotionally or finan
cially I was in a position to give a child the
things I wanted to, " she said. "I couldn't
even give it a father. "
Before the abortion, the pregnancy
haunted her continuously. "It's like
you've got this pit in your stomach and
knowing that you can 't get away from it. "
"To appreciate an experimental film
you have to have an open mind and open
eyes," he said. ,ir
Even with open minds and eyes, experi
mental films may affect audiences in
strange ways. Whiteside recalled that last'
spring during an experimental film one
guy got up, walked to the stage and kissed
the movie screen. "Of course, one should
show proper manners in viewing experi
mental films as they would in an art
gallery," Whiteside said.
Among the directors featured tonight,
perhaps the most famous is Stan
Brakhage of Murder Psalm. Although his
main concern is experimental film,
Brakhage has produced commercial film
projects for such items as laundry soap.
Remember the bottle of April-fresh
Downy floating down through white
clouds to land on a soft blanket? That
commercial was produced by Brakhage.1
But the Murder Psalm Brakhage is
quite a contrast from the Downy
Brakhage. Whiteside said that Brakhage
got the idea for Murder Psalm while
reading Freud's assertion that no cases of
matricide dreams had ever been reported.
Disturbed, Brakhage went to sleep and
dreamed of chopping his mother into
mincemeat. Inspired by the matricide
dream, Brakhage produced Murder
Psalm, which contains death images
ranging from a morgue in Pittsburgh to a
cartoon mouse being run over by a car.
What does Murder Psalm mean? "It's
very personal, very subjective and very
emotional," Whiteside said. But what
does it all mean? It's up to you.
she said. "I'd wake up and I'd start my
day and 10-minute intervals didn't go by
when it didn't go through my mind. "
She remembered the procedure the
clinic this way: "I was talking to the
counselors and then it got bad and I said,
7 can't talk anymore.' It was over real
fast. I remember the counselors said, 'It's
over, ' and I said, 'It is?' I couldn 't believe
it! It wasn't pleasant, but it was brief.
"The next day I cried all day, "she said,
but the sadness soon dissipated.
'To me it was never an issue of any kind of sinful thing.
What I believe is wrong is bringing a child into the
world when it would be unwanted.'
) - .
Perhaps surprisingly, most UNC stu
dents who became pregnant were not using
any1 kind of contraception. Many women
do not even try to obtain contraceptives
because doing so would force them to ad
mit to themselves that they were being sex
ually active, Walters said. This makes
many women uncomfortable.
"A lot of people are out there having
sex even though they really don't want to
and they dont think it's right," Walters
said. Pressure from partners and the idea
that "everyone else is' doing it" may
strongly influence a woman's decision to
have sex, she said.
Student counselor Nancy Whitchurch
agreed that there seemed to be a big push
on campus to have intercourse.
There are other reasons women don't
seek contraceptives besides a refusal, to
confront being sexually active. "Many
think, 'It can't happen to me. It happens
to other people, but it won't happen to
me,' " Walters said.
, Other women simply fail to plan ahead.
Or they take their chances on getting preg
nant. Whitchurch, a counselor in the Sex
uality Education and Counseling Service,
likened this to a game of Russian roulette
and added, "It's unbelievable how naive
people can be." The probability that a
woman not using any birth control will be
come pregnant is about 90 percent.
"A lot of people don't realize just how
hard your body tries to get you pregnant,"
said Laura Mundell, a counselor at a Dur
ham abortion clinic, i ..' s
';:' Women who were using birth control
when they became pregnant usually ex
perienced s resentment and anger, coun
selors said. The most commonly used
methods of birth control among UNC
students are the pill, withdrawal and con
doms, Walters said.
Another woman, a UNC graduate stu
dent, has had two abortions, the first when
she was 16 and the second during her
senior year at UNC. As she refected upon
her experiences, she sat relaxed and talked
easily of her feelings.
"To me it was never an issue of any
kind of sinful thing, " she said. "What I
believe is wrong is bringing a child into the
world when it would be unwanted. "
Though she was not using birth control
the first time she got pregnant, the second
time she was using an IUD. She was
shocked when her body began to exhibit
the signs of pregnancy.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, it 's got to be a
mistake!' " she said. Then when the
symptoms proved to be accurate, she be
came angry. "I thought, 'Why the hell did
this happen to me? That's not fair! I have
Cicely Berry is concerned
... invited to UNC to
an effective birth control method that's
been working for years. ' It was just emo
She received support from her boy
friend, and he paid half the price of the
abortion. "He was in some ways more up
set about it than I was, " she said.
Pressure from school made her want to
get the second abortion as soon as possi
ble, she said. "I remember feeling relieved
that I could study again. "
Someday she wants to have kids, but
only when the timing is right. "I can't see
how any woman couldn't be resentful of
having a kid when that would just throw a
wrench into her whole life, " she said.
For those UNC students who become
pregnant and opt for abortion, making
that decision can cause as much anxiety as
the abortion itself .
"Many women feel that the abortion is
in control of them," Whitchurch said.
"For women who have never had to make
a decision before, having to take respon
sibility for themselves in this context can
Other women make the decision with
.little anxiety. "Some people feel strong
because they're taking charge of their
lives," Mundell said.
Many women seek support from part
ners and friends, but few students discuss
their decision with their families. Some
women may feel their parents would be
disappointed in them, but some don't tell
their parents because they feel it is a per
sonal decision, Walters said.
But counselors agree that it is important
for women to talk with someone about
their decision. There are several services on
campus designed to help women with
problem pregnancies,' including counseling
at SHS, and the Sexuality Education and
For one Durham resident, the abortion
she had during her sophomore year in col
lege has caused some inner turmoil. As she
looked back on her experience, her clear
blue eyes grew thoughtful, and she said
softly, "I feel pretty callous about the
whole thing. To me to kill anything is ab
solutely the worst possible thing you can
To me to kill anything is absolutely the worst possible
thing you can do. I've just come finally to the decision
that it's not killing anything.'
do. I've just come finally to the' decision
that it's not killing anything."
She had been using an IUD for several
months when she found out she was preg
nant a discovery that caused shock and
anger. "You don't ever think it's going to
happen to you, " she said. "It was just
kind of like a bad joke, "
Before her abortion, she tried not to
dwell on her emotions, she said. Raised in
a strict Southern Baptist family, she never
told her parents about her experience.
"They would have felt that they were the
ones who had been wronged, " she said.
DTHZane A. Saunders
with keeping language alive
help teach "Shakespearean"
. ' - """""
Pam Walters says regret sometimes follows an abortion
... she is head of problem pregnancy counseling at SHS
She is still sorting out the experience in
her mind. "I don't know if I've ever come
to grips with whether abortion is right or
not," she said. "I don't feel like that's
something I can ever know for sure. I just
had ta. do what I had to do.
For women who have had an abortion
before, counselors say, the anxiety sur
rounding the second one can be just as in
tense. Among UNC students who report
pregnancies, very few have had abortions
before, Walters said. ,
Nor do many suffer physical complica
tions from their abortions. Most women
get abortions during the first 12 weeks of
pregnancy, but they are legal in North
Carolina until 20 weeks into the pregnan
cy. After the abortion, most women feel re
lieved, counselors say, either at having
made such a significant decision or having
the pregnancy terminated.
But long-term effects are more difficult
By JO ELLEN MEEKINS
Cicely Berry wants to keep
language alive, and for the past
three weeks, she has been teaching
UNC students to do just that.
"Language is where we are as
people. When language becomes
dehumanized, we become
dehumanized," Berry said.
Cicely Berry works with more
than 100 actors of the Royal
Shakespeare Company to maintain
its high standards by working on the
language of Shakespeare. Dr.
Barringer, head of the department,
of dramatic art at UNC, invited
Berry to Chapel Hill to teach UNC
graduate students to speak the
Shakespearean language. She also
teaches a few undergraduates.
" Berry first taught at the Central
School of Speech and Drama in'
England. Early in her career, she
taught such well known actors as
Sean Connery, Peter Finch, lan
McKellen and Ben Kingsley.
For the past 13' years, she has
worked with the Royal Shakespeare
Company. She also has written a
book, Voice in the Actor, which
discusses how actors use and train
DTH John Williams
to assess. Though most studies deny strong
negative consequences, they may be mis
leading because of their reliance on what
women say their feelings are, said Vaida
Thompson, a UNC psychology professor.
??sejte Can't verbalize them
ri (negative feelings), doesn't mean they
don't have them."
Most women adapt their behavior to
their situation, Thompson said. "People
have to defend themselves. The healthiest
thing to do is to say, 'I'm glad I did it. "
And while there may be a slight
downward trend in students who report
pregnancies, it's too early to tell, Walters
said. But regardless of the trend, students
will very likely continue to deal with preg
nancy and abortion on a personal level.
If abortion is a campus problem, it is a
problem only as it relates to each person
involved, said. Frederick Schroeder, dean
of student life. "We have great concern
for them, but it's not an institutional prob
lem perse." '
Whether women students view pregnan
cy as a problem, few situations have such
life-changing potential. As one counselor
simply put it, Whatever decision they
make, it's going to determine their
their voices. The book is used in
nearly every drama school in
England and in many in the United
"Shakespeare is quite difficult
because actors must honor all
rhythm and imagery. Everything
happens on the word itself," Berry
Berry feels that in modern
literature, the dialogue does not ar
ticulate exactly what the actor is
"In Shakespeare, every image is
necessary; they are not poetic
descriptions. They are a release of
the feelings of the character," Berry
said. "In modern life, we tend to
hide our feelings to underplay
In addition to the United States,
Cicely Berry has taught in India,
Yugoslavia and Germany. Her stay
in Chapel Hill ends Friday.
"With concentrated work, I hope
that the students will feel that they
can cope with any Vjnd of
Shakespeare," Berry said. She also
said she hoped the students would
have a good grasp of how to work
on a language, which will help them
with modern language as well. ,