Imagine suspecting that you may be pregnant. Enough of the symptoms have culminated into a collective red flag to make you schedule an appointment with your doctor. Imagine being nervous, anxious, uncertain about what to do, trying to decide whether to keep the child or terminate the pregnancy -- and then being told by your trusted physician that, as someone considering abortion, you would actually experience less medical risk by ending the pregnancy than you would by carrying it full term.
Would that information affect your decision to have the baby?
According to an article in The Telegraph, this is the conversation British researchers are proposing take place between physicians, nurses, counselors, and pregnant women under their care who may be making the decision to have an abortion. It is, from a medical perspective, part of the responsible disclosure of information handed down from a doctor to a patient. Nothing less, nothing more.
But from a humanistic angle, it’s got coercion written all over it. Between the fierce and fiery debates about a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and a child’s right to breathe those first breaths of life, I don’t think anyone believes that abortion is ever necessarily a good thing. A declaration from a trusted medical professional at an exponentially vulnerable time, however, could influence a woman’s thinking and cloud her decision-making.
The proposed guidance also says that women who are pondering whether to have an abortion should also be told that most would-be mothers who terminate their pregnancies do not suffer any psychological harm.
Harm? Maybe not, though the guidance isn’t explicitly clear on what their definition of harm really is. Most women who even contemplate an abortion do so because the pregnancy has created some kind of distress -- fear of being financially unprepared to care for a child, worry about being abandoned by their partner or causing a dramatic upheaval, stress about acceptance, ridicule and isolation from their family, friends, and, in some cases, their faith communities. So it stands to reason that most women who are even entertaining the idea of an abortion are doing so because their pregnancy was unplanned, considering most folks who prepare and plot the conception of a child don’t turn around and make a decision to abort it.
It’s hard to believe that the psychological impact of aborting a pregnancy is as carefree and uneventful as this new research tries to make it out to be. Not only does it fly in the face of more than 30 studies that have proven quite the opposite, but if it’s implemented, there’s no way a woman in a heightened emotional state is going to stop, ponder, and say, “Hold on, that doesn’t sound quite right” before taking her medical professional’s word for it. Why shouldn’t she trust them? If the doc says she’ll be okay, she really has no reason to question that she’ll be fine, psychologically and physically. But I’m confident -- super confident, in fact -- that that’s not the case in more instances than it is.
Whether the decision is right or wrong isn’t my call to make. I just think women should have fair access to all of the right information to use their best judgment, not baited with overtly one-sided medi-speak at a time when they’re already grappling with the struggle to make the right decision. Unless someone else is going to be waiting in the wings giving a rundown of the medical and psychological pros of having the child, I can’t see how this is really helping a woman in the situation make the right choice for herself.
Would implementing this disclosure help or influence women making the decision to keep their baby?
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