Stojan Adasevic will never forget the day he was organizing the filing cabinet in the doctors’ room. He was a medical student at the time. A number of gynecologists entered the room. Paying no attention to the student crouched over a pile of papers in the corner, they began swapping stories about their medical practice.
Dr. Rado Ignatovic recalled a patient who had come to him for an abortion. The procedure failed because the doctor had been unable to align the cervix. As the gynecologists went on discussing the woman’s history, Stojan, who had been listening in, suddenly stiffened. He realized that the woman under discussion — a former dentist at the nearby clinic — was his mother.
“She’s dead now” — observed one of the doctors — but I wonder what happened to the unwanted child?”
Stojan couldn’t resist. “I’m the child!” he said, getting up. Silence fell over the room. Seconds later the doctors were walking out.
Over the years Dr. Adasevic would have cause to recall that event many times. It was perfectly clear to him: he owed his life to the fact of a failed abortion. He would never make such a blunder himself. Many women were referred to him because of difficulty in aligning the cervix. This was never a problem for Stojan. He became the best abortionist in Belgrade. Before long he had surpassed his master in the profession — Dr. Ignatovic, to whose incompetence he owed his life.
“The secret lies in training the hand through frequent procedures” he would say, citing the German proverb: Übung macht Meister (practice makes perfect). Faithful to this maxim, he would perform from twenty to thirty abortions a day. His record was thirty-five abortions in one day. Today he has difficulty reckoning up the abortions he performed in his twenty-six years of practice. He estimates anywhere between 48,000 and 62,000.
For years he remained convinced that abortion, as taught in the medical faculties and textbooks, was a surgical procedure not unlike that of removing an appendix. The only difference was in the organ removed: a piece of intestine in the one case, and embryonic tissue in the other. Doubts began to arise during the 1980s when ultrasound technology came to Yugoslavian hospitals. It was then that Adasevic first saw on the USG monitor what had until then been invisible to him — the inside of a woman’s womb, a live child, sucking its thumb, moving its arms and legs. As often as not, fragments of that child would soon be lying on the table beside him.
“I saw without seeing — he recalls today. — Everything changed after I started having the dreams”.