From this weekend's Wall Street Journal opinion page: "Some have said that Detroit is in the throws [sic.] of committing cultural suicide."
The word Henry Payne of The Detroit News was looking for is throes.
throe noun [from Old English thrawu, threa threat, pang; akin to Old High German drawa threat]
1. pang, spasm [as in "death throes" or "the throes of childbirth"]
2. plural: a hard or painfuls struggle [as in "the throes of revolutionary social change" --M.D. Geismar]