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Thursday, January 06, 2005

 Confessions of an abortion doctor

What causes a doctor to want to offer abortion services?
One morning years ago, when I was working as a resident, a nurse brought me in to talk to a pregnant girl. When I walked into the room, there was this child -- an 11-year-old. She had come in for a procedure, and it soon became obvious that she had no understanding of sex -- she didn't really understand that she'd even had it, or that it had any connection to her pregnancy. We literally had to teach this girl about what it means to have sex -- about STDS, abstinence, and pregnancy. I remember thinking: In a world where people don't want kids to learn about these things, how can you not give them the choice to terminate a pregnancy? Even if she had chosen to continue the pregnancy and opt for adoption, what would that have done to her own childhood? How can we not provide a child with any education about sex, then force her to become a parent long before she's ready?

Humanists respect life and value happiness and personal choice, so they (I include myself here) would likely agree with this physician's rationale. Because humanists take happiness and suffering into consideration, they tend to be more concerned with the quality of life than the right to life, if the two come into conflict. The probable quality of life of the baby, the woman, the father and the rest of the family, the doctors and nurses involved, would all have to be given due weight. There is plenty of room for debate about how much weight each individual should have, but most humanists would probably put the interests of the woman first, since she would have to complete the pregnancy and probably care for the baby, whose happiness would largely depend on hers. She also exists already with other responsibilities and rights and desires which can be taken into account - unlike those of the unborn fetus which cannot be so surely ascertained.


Blogger Barbara said...

I like your characterization of our concerns about suffering and quality of life in the whole issue of respect for life. One thing I find objectionable about the right-to-life absolutists, is that they seem to be swayed more by the idea of "hypothetical" children than by the potential realities of those children's lives. Hypothetical children are wanted, loved, nurtured, protected; hypothetical children don't smell or scream or demand what you might not be able to give them. A second thing I find objectionable is the lack of regard for the quality of life of the woman and children who already exist. Finally, if all the right-to-life energy were focused on improving the lives of people who already exist, then something real rather than hypothetical could be accomplished.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

I have become increasingly convinced that "pro-life" is a misnomer. "Pro-birth" might be more accurate. After a child is born, the attitude seems to be "screw 'em".

5:10 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

Well I have to ask a question here for those of you who seem so interested in human and personal rights.

Abortion is legal. Infanticide is illegal. If a woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy at any time before birth, she is said to have "exercised her right" to do so. If she wishes to terminate her child’s life at any time after birth, she is viewed as a killer and prosecuted as such. Why the difference?

The answer must be that there is a quality or set of qualities (let’s call it "x") that all newborns have and no fetuses have that makes newborns worthy of protection by the law and the fetus unworthy of such protection.

So, the question is: What is x?

I will add that I am pro life and have never had the "screw um" attitude nor do any pro life people I know.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

For society as a whole, as well as for the children themselves, the it is better if every child is a wanted child. However, abortion is not the best way of avoiding unwanted children, and improved sex education, easily available contraception, and better education and opportunities for young women, can all help to reduce the number of abortions. But as long as abortion is needed as a last resort, most humanists would agree that society should provide safe legal facilities. The alternatives, which would inevitably include illegal abortions, are far worse.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

That doesn't exactly answer my question. I understand the view of the Pro choice side, I just see it as a crime to humanity to destroy innocent human life because people don't want to take responsiblility for their actions. For people who are so concerned about the rights of people who may or may not be innocent of horrific crimes against humanity, (and I am one of those people) I would think they would be screaming at the top of their voices to end the atrocity of abortion. Not hiding behind the "It will still happen just not safely." comment. Safely for who? Thats a good question. Have you wondered if maybe the next great human achievement may have come from one of those wonderful aborted children. many of the worlds great discoveries have come from people who had to deal with great hardships. Happiness does not come from avoiding hardship in life. I think it is quite the opposite, I think happiness comes from overcoming hardship and making a difference in the world around you. Just ask yourself what would make you happy today.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

You are parroting the pro-birth minority. Where is your compassion for the innocent child in the story: the eleven year old girl?This is an embryo. These are children. I can tell the difference, Dan. Why can't you?

9:34 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

That is a nice image of an embryo. Though you and I are both smart enough to know that just a few days later that image will look more like the image you post of the children. My question still remains the same and unanswered. What is "x"? I have all the compassion in the world for the eleven year old girl. Taking the baby which now grows inside her does not really change her real problem. If you look to the real problem, it possibly is with whom she lives and is being raised by, or maybe she was raped by some stranger. The story doesn't really say. It is just a story that tries to support abortion and sex education. I am not against sex education but at what point do you start teaching it and does it help if the girl was raped. I will have to assume that she was since not knowing anything about sex can't really make you a willing participant. So the story is not so simple and the answer to the problem is very complex. I remember when I was in high school, a story of a 10 year old girl in the Chicago area who had a baby. Her uncle had apparently raped her and noone knew she was preganate. The baby was adopted out and was at birth apparently healthy. I agree that the world in which we live is mixed up, and fixing the problems of the "already born" would be nice so that we wouldn't use them as an excuse to terminate the not yet born. The eleven year old is in the extream minority of who is having abortions in this country. I may be pro birth but am also pro life, the pro life movement is also against the death penalty. And while the media and Democrats don't acknowledge our work there it doesn't mean we are absent from that fight. Lastly I am no "parrot" I just happen to see the logic in affording the same basic human rights to the ones who cannot speak for themselves. Unless you can show me "x" it is logical for me to be "Pro birth".

5:43 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Just as you rightly object to being lumped with a group that only cares about the fetus before birth, it does no good to characterize all women who choose abortion as those who would "destroy innocent human life because [they] don't want to take responsiblility for their actions." Complexity of motivation is not the sole property of either side.

But that line does bring up for me a question about the oft-cited word "innocent" in reference to a human life. It still seems to me that this hypothetical innocence is another way of justifying our neglect of the "guilty" who are already here, especially when I see the poor admonished for their lack of "taking responsibility for their actions" when they have children beyond their means.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

I can't tell the difference between those 2 pics.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Electro said...

Here is the way I will describe innocent for you as it pertains to me and my view. If you have committed no crime and are not in need of punishment you are innocent. I have three boys ages 13, 12, and 8 none are "innocent" they have all lied to me, taken things that don't belong to them, and hurt others. I have always dished out an appropriate punishment, and they are all still living. I don't think a baby inside its mother can be guilty of anything. I don't have any stats but if I had to give an estimate on how many abortions are performed as a "choice" of convenience it would be about 90%. About the neglect of the "guilty" I am not sure that is even happening or relevent in the U.S. trust me the poorest of the poor in this country live like kings compared to others in the world (not that I don't have compassion for them) I do all I can to help the under privliged in Indianapolis but they own their lives and must do their part as well. I don't think my question was difficult to answer. What is "x"? But it is being ignored. I understand very well the pro choice side, and I think it is a terrible crime that we don't do some thing to stop abortion, because it is simply not necessary.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Electro: X? I don't know that there is an absolute answer to your question about a set of values that apply to born and unborn. For example, we do, in some places, allow parents to make the decision to withhold feeding of born children. And in my own city of Erie, PA, there has been a court case in the past few years over charging with murder a woman who kicked a pregnant woman, causing the death of her unborn child. Maybe that at least addresses your question. I wasn't trying to ignore it, I guess I just don't see it as that important.

I doubt that pro-choice people all have the same views. I don't think there are gods, so I don't have a religious or eternal or "sinful" view. I don't have a problem with people calling unborn children unborn children or fetuses or whatever. I don't disagree that the purpose of abortion is to prevent a child from being born--if it wasn't a child, then you wouldn't need an abortion.

I simply think that under any circumstances or any set of beliefs that it is the woman's decision, and that she has to live with the consequences of her decision.

But you probably want to know whether I think that a woman should be able to kill her child after it is born and if there is an age limit at which I would object to that. I'm thinking.... It's my understanding that some ancient culture (maybe Greek) did not permit abortion, but did permit killing the born child. Perhaps that's true; maybe some see it as a precedent. Maybe we object to it for the same reason we have the value of being opposed to the murder of other born people--self-preservation--maintaining the reciprocal situation of you-don't-kill-me and I-wont-kill-you. Or maybe it's just that the abortion is less traumatic for the parent (even though there is evidence of lots of trauma for some).

I, too, have children (much older than yours), but I apparently have a different view of innocence, not one based on original sin, for example.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

And, whoa, I didn't mean to suggest your crime and punishment example was based on original sin. But I guess I do think innocence is not so easily lost as in your example; apparently I think innocence and guilt are not an either/or category, or that innocence is a characteristic that is permanently lost as a result of any action or experience.

I would like to think that abortion could be less necessary with the appropriate education and attitudes about sex, but I don't think it can be eliminated as an option.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

The question is important because the whole Roe vs Wade argument revolved around it. When the prolife side decided not to argue that the fetus was a person the court had no objection to allowing abortion. It is true that people are convicted of murder when they kill an unborn baby, it is because the intent of the mother was to have the baby. I have never heard of a case where a mother is allowed to starve her baby and it was legal. My discusion of innocents was to take it to an extream to demonstrate how even small children need punishment of some kind, but that an unborn baby does not, it has done nothing wrong. Yet because of the choice of its mother it can be given the death penalty. My argument on innocents can not be based on original sin as one would believe that you are created into original sin and I would then have to believe that the unborn baby has that sin. The penalty for original sin is already death in as far as we all have to die, but that is a theological discusion and not needed for the discussion of "x". It would be impossible for you to logically come up with "x" because it does not exist, that is why I ask the question. If "x" does not exist it is illogical for us to allow the death of one and not the other or the opposite protect one and not the other. The real reason for the existance of abortion is convenience. People can hide behind all the other reasons they want to make up, the truth is that they made a choice and are not willing to live with it. (rare instances of rape and incest aside) there was some discusion of bumper stickers on another post. I have some about abortion, a friend of mine does too. One day a woman came up to her and told her of a delema she was in after being raped, she saw those bumper stickers and desided to have the baby, she has been very glad for it. It is a aweful thing of how we treat human life when it is not ours, whether it is in far away Iraqi, the prisoner who has done terrible things, the immigrant who wants a better life, a woman walking in puplic, or the baby that grows inside a woman. I think it is in the best interest of humanity to stop the killing, and stop it now.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous *PATIENT* said...

No one knows what it's like to be up on the pedestal and in this "hot seat", unless you have either been a patient or dr. of abortion. The "right to lifer's" are ignorant to other people's personal situations and/or feelings-beliefs; I have an abusive mother who chooses to stay estranged, a father who rejected me since being 3 yrs old, no siblings, or any other "blood" related support system. I am educated, responsible, but always find myself with men like my father; manipulators who show me a nice side at first, but only to move in with their control or emotional abuse. I have a low self esteem level, the absense of a decent support system, and find that I always dedicate myself 100% to this man and think that he should reciprocate in the same manner; unfortunatly these men are users and can't be depended on in the end. My last relationship had ADD, Anxiety, Depression ... lacked taking responsibility for any and everything that he ever did or does. I thought I was going crazy; he'd dissappear for 6 mos and then stay for 6 mos as though he forgot I ever existed. This last time he promised to control the birth control on his end since I had been by myself and temporarily stopped taking my birth control pills after 10 yrs, but one night he went against what we had agreed. It only happened once and his response was "I wanted to see if I could still reproduce". I found out I was pregnant, missed two weeks of my newly started return to college, and was sick non stop through my 7th week when I saught an abortion. I was so betrayed that this man who promised me the world if only I did this or that and his latest ploy was this (baby). I stayed home by myself not wanting to move for 2 weeks straight and he appeared twice and that was it. It was his game to control, not genuine feelings or words that he meant to follow through with. I am almost 30 and want a child now, but knew there was no way that I could ever support this child on my college loans, nor did I ever want to raise a child on my own, like my mother raised me; in poverty and isolated from the world leading to my social and general depression as an adult. I know I have to take care of myself first, before a child will be able to enjoy a life on earth. I kept the abortion to myself; only my partner knew; he threatened to kidnap and hold me until I delivered "his" child; it scared me and I was forced to go by myself to the dr. appt. The nurses and dr. are people of much compassion and understanding. With them I felt a little less isolated; I actually felt almost like I bonded with them in a stange way; instead of bonding with a mate during child birth it was the opposite. These caregivers should be given a lot of credit; everyday they risk something to do this for those of us who have to make this difficult choice in our lifes. There need to be more support groups for people who seek abortion, it is only hurting us to keep it quiet.

7:36 PM  

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