Just don’t attract attention!
In places where abortion is illegal, the police are trained as to what kind of implements they should look out for during a property search. This for a long time made it impossible to develop an instrument specifically designed for carrying out abortions. Instead, women did it themselves, using instruments that were more or less suitable, but that looked suitably “unsuspicious”: knitting needles, bicycle spokes, bent coat-hangers etc. that are inserted into the cervix and puncture the amniotic sac. The dreadful results of such anatomically and hygienically dangerous interventions are well known.
So it was fortuitous if a medical instrument or device, such as urinary catheters or enema syringes with extensions, could be repurposed for use in abortions. In our collection we hold a metal cylinder with various attachable tubes that was intended for rinsing and suctioning of the ear and larynx. The tubes’ length and flexibility meant that they were relatively well suited for the task for which they were secretly used – and what’s more, all the parts could be disinfected and even sterilised, considerably reducing the risk to the woman.
Our warm thanks go to Michael Künze from the Karl Storz Archive in Tuttlingen for his valuable information as to the “real” purpose of our object!