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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yes, Women Do Have the Right to Information About the Abortion Decision

Last week I wrote about a pro-choice editorial that argued that pro-lifers should not offer information about abortion to women entering clinics that perform them. We should "let women do what they want," according to the authors.

However, there is that pesky issue of informed choice. Let's say you were about to drink what you thought was a Coke, but it was actually a glass of poison. As far as you knew, it was perfectly safe to drink. Now, if somebody sitting at the table next to you knew that it was poison, wouldn't you want them to tell you? And might that information change your decision to drink the Coke? Furthermore, don't you deserve to have full information about what's in the glass before you make the decision whether or not to drink it?

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are scores of post-abortive women who have spoken out to say that if they had only been told X, Y, or Z before the abortion, they never would have gone through with it. (See point #2 of this piece about crisis pregnancy centers for a heartbreaking example of this.) So clearly, there are some types of information that have the ability to influence this decision. Shouldn't women be given such information, before rather than after the fact?

Just two days ago, Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility, penned one of the most compelling arguments for informed choice that I have ever read. It involves her horrific experience of a medication abortion - specifically, eight weeks of excruciating abdominal pain and cramps, gushing blood and lemon-sized blood clots coming out of her, and the fear that she might be dying - and her subsequent realization that the abortion clinic staff knew that all of these things were likely to happen, yet did not inform her beforehand.

It is difficult to read Abby's reflection and come away with the impression that women always know everything there is to know about the abortion decision when they are entering a clinic. Clearly, they do not. It is inexcusable that the law does not uniformly require abortion providers to give women this kind of information. And it is even more inexcusable that dedicated pro-lifers are criticized for taking it upon themselves to stand out on sidewalks and offer the information that the law inexcusably fails to require.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pro-Choice Editorial: Women Shouldn't Have the Chance to Change Their Minds About an Abortion

Last winter, the pro-life community in Chicago received the news that Resurrection Hospital was pioneering a procedure to halt second-trimester abortions when a woman had second thoughts after beginning one. (These later-term procedures normally take a total of 2-3 days to complete.) In fact, Fox News did a story that highlighted this.

Pro-life groups such as the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, which ministers to abortion-bound women on sidewalks outside clinics, are collaborating with the hospital to be able to offer this option to women they encounter who change their minds. From what I understand, very little research has been done on how to stop these procedures. But I think it's terrific that this is being developed. It means that it may not yet be "too late" for a woman who realizes that she does not, in fact, want or need to kill her unborn child.

One would think this could only be a good thing.

Yet I probably shouldn't have been surprised to learn that some pro-choicers (who supposedly support whatever choice a woman makes) don't think so. Central Florida Future, the student newspaper at the University of Central Florida, published an astounding editorial about this new technique of stopping abortions midway through the process.

They state that
there are certain medical uncertainties and ethical questions surrounding the procedure and until these problems are solved we do not approve of this practice.
One wonders what they mean by "medical uncertainties."

A few more paragraphs, and then they say that
medical professionals aren't sure this procedure is entirely safe.
So, what are the "uncertainties"? What are the "safety" issues?

They finally explain:
In 2009, New York University conducted a study on abortion reversals like those performed at Resurrection. Of the four abortion reversals, two resulted in preterm births and the babies did not survive.
OK, now we get it. The editorial staff of Central Florida Future is wary of trying to reverse the process of killing a baby via abortion because....the baby might die as a result of the reversal.

This argument defies logic. Wasn't the baby going to die anyway if the procedure wasn't stopped? Isn't that the whole point? If a woman changes her mind in such a situation, what is there to lose by trying to save the baby?

They end the article by saying:
...several of the women who have had their abortions reversed have come to the conclusion because of "sidewalk counselors" who try to dissuade women from having abortions. ...We also think that "street counselors" shouldn't be approaching women who are considering abortion or are mid-way through the decision; let her do what she wants with her body and her life.
So let me get this straight. If an informed pro-lifer on a street corner offers a woman information about the abortion decision that she might not otherwise get, that pro-lifer is infringing on the woman's ability to do what she wants?

Never in my life have I seen people so threatened by mere information as when I have stood on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic. Once, a friend of mine went up to a woman who had just come out of the clinic and was waiting to cross the street, and said, "May I offer you some information?" She handed the woman a pamphlet about abortion alternatives, including support services for single moms in the area near the clinic location. The woman seemed pleased to receive the information, and started chatting with my friend. Immediately, one of the clinic volunteers walked up and placed himself in between the two of them, blocking my friend from the woman's view. He said, "You don't have to talk to her if you don't want to."

Wow. And pro-lifers are supposedly the ones who don't respect women? Don't most grown women know that they don't have to talk to someone they don't want to talk to? How condescending. And aren't they smart enough and capable enough to decide whether they want to accept information from someone, and to read and consider it for themselves? What could possibly be the harm in having a pro-lifer at least offer it?

Contrary to what many pro-choicers would have us believe, a woman entering an abortion clinic is not always fully and perfectly informed of exactly what will happen in an abortion and exactly what alternatives are available to her. Stories abound of women who say, "If only someone had said/offered X to me, I never would have had my abortion."

Central Florida Future could not be more wrong. Pro-lifers have the right - actually, the duty - to offer information and support to abortion-bound women who may not otherwise get it. And women deserve the right to have a change of heart about their abortions at any time, no matter how slim the chances that the baby's life can be saved. It is worth a try. Saving a life is always worth a try.