Human Face

Woman performing C-section on self

Here’s something to grossly entertain you before I go into other grosser details. A 1996 Inquirer news brief about a hacking incident could have landed in the Guinness Book of World Records except that…

I have kept the news clipping all these years and always wondered who should be (dis)credited, the writer or the copy editor. I credit them both for making me laugh every time I stumble upon the story in my files. It qualifies to be included in Inquirer Incredibles.


The news brief’s title is “Lover decapitated” and is datelined Bacolod City. It came out on July 12, 1996 (16 years ago today!) on page 21 of your fave newspaper: “An irate husband beheaded his wife’s lover after he caught them making love inside their house in Bago City. The husband said his mind went blank, took a bolo and cut off the man’s head. Headless, the man managed to run around the village and died an hour later. The woman fled and was nowhere to be seen. The husband is now detained at Bago City. Relatives of both the victim and suspect asked that their names be withheld.”

Something about that fourth to the last sentence, if gets mo.  LOL?


That almost-Guinness record holder could have beaten this recent almost also-ran, which is no laughing matter. I thought the case of the Filipino woman who performed a Caesarian section on herself last week could qualify for the Guinness. Alas, I read that a Mexican woman had done it in 2000, and unlike the Filipino woman, was able to successfully deliver her baby boy alive and kicking. More on the Mexican and other incredible self-surgeries later.

The Filipino mother, Janice Calipe, 28, a midwife by the way, who attempted a C-section on herself is now recuperating in a hospital. According to news reports, Janice might be charged for performing an abortion, which is a criminal act. Her mental state is now being evaluated by psychiatrists.

Inquirer’s Jeannette I. Andrade wrote: “Using an ordinary kitchen knife and with no anesthetic, the woman slashed open her belly and uterus to remove a baby from her womb Wednesday afternoon and then sewed herself up with a regular needle and thread. Her baby who apparently had reached full term, died as a result of the operation…

“The bizarre incident was discovered at around 1 p.m. Wednesday, inside the woman’s house on Nagtahan Street in Sta. Mesa when the woman’s 39-year-old aunt arrived at their home and found her niece sitting on a blood-covered bed with her abdomen slit and the skin over it apparently sewn together. The lifeless fetus and a kitchen knife she used lay near the woman.”

Dr. Mario Lato of Sta. Ana District Hospital in Manila said that Janice still had to go under the knife to undo the harm she had done on herself. “She was only able to stitch together her skin and did not reach the uterus, which is the reason for the surgery. We removed 250 cc (cubic centimeters) of blood in her abdominal lining.”

What possessed Janice to do such a thing when there are public hospitals nearby?  If she was in labor couldn’t she have just waited for the baby to come out? Was it her painful way of getting rid of her full-term baby? But why when there are countless potential adoptive parents out there? Was she really trying to kill her full-term baby? Or was she just trying to bring her baby into this world? If Janice intended to kill herself why did she bother to sew up her gaping abdomen? Did she know about the Mexican woman who had done it?

Janice’s next of kin who had her dead baby hurriedly buried in some corner are in trouble, too. The baby’s remains were exhumed by the police a few days ago. As evidence of an alleged crime committed? What was the crime? Infanticide? Abortion? Putting a baby’s life and one’s own in jeopardy? Women’s rights advocates should have a say on the case.


Janice’s case is different from that of Inez Ramirez Perez of Mexico, who lived with her husband and six children high up in the mountains. Afraid that she might again deliver a dead baby and because her labor took too long, Inez took a gulp of rubbing alcohol and sliced her abdomen open with her husband’s knife. She wanted both herself and her child to live. Passing out several times during the process, Inez was still able to stitch herself up before outside help came.

It’s an incredible story, confirmed by doctors and later featured in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. You can read about it on the Internet, see her picture with her growing son and the knife she used.

Four of the “10 Incredible Self-Surgeries” featured in Science & Nature were done by women. Jerri Nielsen, an ER doctor, was stationed in Antarctica when she discovered a lump in her breast. There was no way for her to get out of there in the winter so she performed a biopsy on the lump. She communicated with specialists via e-mail and teleconferencing. Equipment and medical supplies were air-dropped for her use. Scanned specimen was sent to the United States for biopsy which confirmed malignancy. Nielsen had chemotherapy out there in the icy wilderness.

Incredible was British artist and scientific director Amanda Feilding’s procedure called trepanning, which no surgeon wanted to do on her. Feilding used a dental drill on her skull to allow blood to circulate more freely in her head. A write-up says “she lost almost a liter of blood but she was pleased with her surgery. Over the next four hours she noticed herself rising up with a feeling of elation and relaxation. Feilding says, ’I went out and had steak for supper, and then I went to a party’.”

A man (not a Filipino) recently made the news after he sliced off his manly parts and cooked them for the delectation of his friends. That’s self-butchery.

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TAGS: abortion, featured column, infanticide, Janice calipe, unwanted pregnancy
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