“We were delivering babies in the dark”

I can’t sleep, so naturally, I’m reading the news. I just finished reading this story on the BBC’s website about medical response during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina (Rescuers Battle Chaos and Confusion, by Matthew Davis). The part that caught my eye was the following:

    Three days ago Dr. Judice was in the New Orleans Superdome, fighting to treat an ever-growing list of patients amid horrifically unhygienic conditions.

    “We were delivering babies in the dark, with nothing more than a flashlight,” he said. “People with chronic illnesses needed treatment, but they did not know the names of their medications.

    “We were treating lacerations that were getting infected, people were dying of heart attacks – all the while working in such an unsanitary place.”

The part about delivering babies in the dark was pulled out of the text and written larger and in bold as a stand-out quote about halfway down the page. Now, I wonder why they chose that quote in particular to highlight? Is the thought of delivering babies in the dark with a flashlight so extraordinarily scary that it was chosen as the shock-quote to grap attention and express how dire the situation had become? More scary than people dying from lack of ventilation because there’s no electricity, or flowing 02, or heartattacks when no one can get their hands on a defibrillator? True, delivering a baby with only a flashlight, and no warm blankets or suction or gloves or sutures, might be a bit extreme, but I wonder if the reason it’s so disturbing to people is because of our culture’s insistence that birth can only happen in a hospital, with tons of medical assistance and equiptment? The idea of birth happening out of a hospital, with nothing more than a flashlight, has been culled out of the text as the best example of how absolutely desperate and shocking the situation has become, and how badly the normal order of things has broken down. Women giving birth on their own without drugs or a hospital! Shocking!

I’m sure I’m making a big deal out of something that was probably a throwaway quote, or just a random editorial decision, but hey, it’s late (well, early, but I am on night-shift time at the moment), and I’m overtired, and hyper-analyzing news articles is fuuuuuuuuun.

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