labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pregnancy Care

Ok, I know these places are nothing new, but it was my first experience as a health care provider being faced with the major moral and ethical issues I have with it when it is intersected with caring for a woman. You know the places- anti-choice centers masquerading as "pregnancy care" centers.

So here is the scenario. 18 year old girl comes in for her first prenatal appointment. It's an unplanned pregnancy. She has been with her boyfriend for a year. She lives at home with her parents, works as a clerk in a mall store part time. Boyfriend is a year older, works as a day laborer and lives with his parents.

I am going over her history, and one thing that is revealed is that she has no idea when her last period was. She thinks it was in late May. I begin saying that we need to get an ultrasound in the next week or so to date her pregnancy accurately.

"Oh, but I already had an ultrasound," she says.

"Was this at another practice?" I ask.

"Um, ya, it was at that care center downtown," she says. She pulls out a card from her purse. The front of the card looks like a religious scene- ethereal clouds, a bird, faint beams of light. Folded neatly inside was two small ultrasound pictures. They reveal a tiny sac with the fetal pole floating inside. It looks like possibly she was around 5 weeks, if that, based on the pictures but there is no clinical information printed on the pictures. No measurements revealing the size and gestation. Instead, written across the image is "Hi Mom & Dad! I love you!"

I handed them back to her and said, "There is nothing on these pictures that tells us how far along you are. Did they give you a due date?"

"No," she replies, "they just talked to me how I would be a good mom and not to worry about not having enough money or anything."

I moved on in our conversation but I really was disturbed by it. The pictures given to her were a clear ploy to not terminate her pregnancy, something she was considering given her social situation, age, and ability to financially support this baby. A political agenda was pushed on this girl by telling her she would make a good mother (which I am not doubting) and not to worry about finances. Because, I am sure, they will help supply her with money to provide what her baby needs- diapers, clothing, food, housing... ya...I'm sure they provide that service, right?

Now, I am sure it's not a surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I am pro-choice. I strongly believe this is a right all women should have, whether they exercise the right or not. I also respect the belief that abortion is wrong, because everyone should have the right to chose to exercise those beliefs for themselves. I have no respect for those who push their beliefs on others, particularly on the vulnerable and unsuspecting. I wonder if these pregnancy care center people care about the long term well being of the women seeking their services? Do they follow up with them and help them out when they are struggling with supporting a child?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Any troll like behavior in the comments or generally mean discussion that does not contribute to a respectful conversation will not be posted. Consider yourself warned.

39 comments:

Courtney said...

Bravo, rebirthnurse. Wonderful points and disturbing story.

SuSuseriffic said...

I totally agree with you!

Across the street from my house (in the city) is one of thease places which have luckily (in the past few years) -at least- have turned to be more medically focused with providing pre-natal appts and giving donated diapers, baby gear and maternity clothes to thease mothers....At least! I feel if a mother is unfairly contorted to do something 'their' way they should at least... HELP! I think if men who didn't want abortion to happen could talk to young men about keeping it 'safe' would go a longway to prevent unwanted pregnancies too....but anyway....good post.

Anne said...

Sometimes these centers do provide help with baby supplies and/or referrals to other agencies that can help. But I agree, it's simplistic to say "You're going to be a great mom - don't worry about the money."

womantowomancbe said...

Actually, quite a few CPCs do have follow-up care, providing diapers, clothes, blankets, etc. Our church and many of the churches in our community regularly give money to our local Sav-A-Life (which as far as I know doesn't have an ultrasound machine or anything like it on premises -- it's a small community and an even smaller CPC). In fact, tomorrow, I'm going to help sew quilts which will be auctioned as a fund-raiser for the all-volunteer center, to raise money for supplies that these girls and their babies will need.

-Kathy

NHMomma said...

That is so sad. They should not call themselves a medical service if the only thing they push is an agenda and keepsake pictures. So sad how so much of our medical community is such a minefield to tiptoe through trying to find the right care provider. Thank you for the work you do!

Sarahthedoula said...

In one of the small-town communities I work in, there has been a big push amongst some of the religious folk to start a "care centre" just like what you're discussing. I am a doula who has a strong personal faith. AND I recognize that just because lady A believes a spiritual force is going to help women through pregnancy, doesn't mean lady B has that same belief. Why should lady B be subjected to lady A's beliefs?? She shouldn't, because they aren't hers. I believe the folk who want to open a "care centre" do care, but I don't think they have a broad enough understanding of the issues at play when it comes to women and their sexuality/fertility. I'm working as best I can to slowly pry open their eyes to the possibilities.... we'll see how it goes.

Stassja said...

And I wonder how many, after she kept that baby, would sneer at her if she were to receive government assistance of any kind...

Amy said...

How delusional and how sad. The child and parents both deserved better. If they are seeking help, they should get unbiased options.

My husband volunteers as a child advocate and he could tell you first-hand the stories of these kids who are not provided for...and it's not just money, diapers, food & toys. The stress adds up and these kids miss out on the fundamental right to be loved and given attention.

So sad.

Real said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ciarin said...

I have heard of those types of places and feel that the 'surprise' approach of these centers is unethical. I work for a pro-life practice, although I am pro-choice myself. I do not employ any tactics to convince a woman to make one or decision or another. However I know there are others who are likely to pull the ultrasound trick and it makes me feel sick. It makes me feel like I am party to that.

Amity said...

"Hi Mom and Dad, I love you!"

Are you serious?! I know you are but...ARE YOU SERIOUS?! That makes me so indescribably angry that I don't know if I can muster an intelligent comment.

Nope, I can't.

Jill said...

I'm pro-choice as well and more than a little disturbed at this scenario. You are absolutely right. As long as the pwecious widdle baby doesn't die, many pro-lifers don't seem to care what else happens to it and its mom.

I'll refrain from going on a tangent here in your comments because I don't want to be the one to start another war over this topic. You are brave for posting this!

Joy said...

I used to volunteer at such a center and there was no political or religious agenda at all. We were merely providing a service to women who found themselves with unplanned pregnancies and didn't know what to do.

I strongly believe that if someone believes they are responsible enough to have sex, then they need to be responsible enough to take care of the consequences. They can't just "get rid" of an STD but they can get rid of their unborn baby.

Also, post-abortive women go through some serious mental and emotional trauma but no one ever addresses that. Abortion just is not natural; it's very medical and invasive. I've never met a single person whose had an abortion and NOT regretted it. And I've met many, many who've had abortions.

Labor Nurse, CNM said...

Yes, this girl was considering abortion as an option. It's hard to say exactly how much she was considering it or whether she would have pursued it if she didn't happen upon this place. My feeling was that she was just flat out conflicted and not sure what to do when she went to this place for help. She cited those exact reasons to me (age, finances, etc) for why she wasn't sure what to do. By the time I'd seen her she was 100% certain she was continuing the pregnancy and felt the care center had helped her.

Amy, I totally agree with you. She should have received unbiased counseling.

Joy, I agree that there are women who regret their abortions, but I don't think its the numbers the pro-life groups talk about. In my professional experience, I've met a lot of women who've had abortions and can't think of any who said it was the worst decision they ever made. Actually, come to think of it I met one recently (who would not fit the stereotype the general public likes to slap on the type of women who pursue abortion) who said that she felt it was the right decision for her (and her husband... ya, she had a husband) and then asked for a tubal. I don't think she is the minority.

Jen said...

There's a alot that I could say here.

I volunteered at and later directed a pro-life crisis pregnancy center for 4 years.

We didn't have an ultrasound machine, but if someone came to us thinking about an abortion, the first thing that we would do was get her to see a Dr or go to a clinic to get an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy.

We didn't want to do ultrasounds at the center, because we didn't want to blur the lines between what we were doing and a medical clinic.

I understand though why pregnancy care centers do use the ultrasound, and why they would put words on the picture (Hi, mom and dad...).

We do try to get the woman to make an emotional connection with the baby. I don't think that this is any more coercive than most Planned Parenthood clinics where the baby is referred to as a "product of conception" or a "blob of tissue" is order to have the woman disconnect from any emotional attachment to her baby.

I find it very interesting that you assume that no prolifer really cares about what happens after the decision is made to keep the baby.

In my experience prolifers do care very much about the woman and what the outcome for her will be after the child is born. We had an extensive referral network to get the women help for whatever situation they were in. We did followup counseling for as long as the woman needed or wanted it. We had parenting classes to help the women become better parents, and give them an opportunity to socialize with other (mostly single) moms who were struggling with the same issues. We also provide clothes, baby items, etc... all free of charge.

How much follow-up counseling do women get from Planned Parenthood or their doctors when they have an abortion? Their adverse situations do not go away just because they have abortions.

One final point, unless you talked with her and she told you that they people at the pregnancy care center were pressuring her to keep her baby, then how do you know she was coerced? It sounds like she felt that they were helpful, and she didn't seem dissatisfied with her experience there. The words on the ultrasound are not proof of coercive tactics.

Woman in crisis pregnancies are not as fragile as some people suggest. They are capable of making good decisions for themselves - no woman who has truly wanted an abortion will be swayed from that decision by some words on an ultrasound.

Labor Nurse, CNM said...

I do feel that the ultrasound was a coercive tool in a political agenda. Perhap the individuals performing the ultrasound did not think they were working for the larger political picture but rather providing a clinical service, but I think it's a pretty clear tactic to put an emotional tag on an ultrasound meant to "confirm pregnancy". My practice confirms pregnancy by ultrasound all the time and we never put little quotes on the pictures. Sure, the women get copies of the pics of their embryo or fetus, but nothing is on it but a bunch of technical data.

And what of the legislation that has been proposed forcing women considering abortion to undergo an ultrasound to see their baby so they can understand what they are doing? This type of legislation is proposed by pro-life politicians because they believe if women see their babies on ultrasound it will persuade them to not abort. Clearly, it's a tactic.

Jill said...

Stassja is right - the very people who would climb all over themselves to get her to keep her baby would turn around and rant about "welfare queens" stealing all their hard-earned money away. Gee whiz. Don't want the baby to get aborted, but don't want to pay to keep the baby alive.

Kathy said...

Labor Nurse,

There are numerous post-abortive women who have said that had they known how far along they were, how far developed their baby was, etc., that they would not have chosen an abortion. That they were told by the abortion provider was "just a blob of tissue" or "like a blood clot"; and then find out later from an early ultrasound for a wanted pregnancy what the so-called "tissue" really looked like, and how advanced it really is, and then they experience severe grief over their decision.

I agree that the legislation to require that women have ultrasounds prior to an abortion is a tactic -- but it's one I agree with. Since women have the choice of abortion, it is one that needs to be made with the best information possible. If she continues to have an abortion after seeing an ultrasound, while I still disagree with her decision, at least she has had that piece of information to help her make her choice. Informed consent. If she chooses to carry her child to term based on the best information available (including an ultrasound), then that is also her choice. Informed consent.

-Kathy

Curdie said...

My very first ultrasound at my OB's office at 7 weeks, the tech typed out, "Hi, Mom and Dad!" on the picture.

I think your assumption that this place wouldn't help with diapers, formula and even rent money is unfair. Did you call them and ask? I would be surprised if they didn't provide practical help.

By the way, the people who call themselves Christians but are unloving to single mothers are not usually the people volunteering at Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

aedesaegyptii said...

I think forcing women who want an abortion to have to look at an ultrasound of the baby is imposing a medically unnecessary treatment on them. It would be like making men who want a vasectomy watch a video of another guy getting his vas clipped - so not the point.

The crisis pregnancy centers in my town for the most part do run deceptive ads that trick women who want one service into getting something else entirely. For the record, Planned Parenthood does offer counseling and support for women with a variety of health problems and would no doubt try to help someone who suffered from depression after an abortion. I wonder how crisis pregnancy centers do treating women for postpartum depression?

And for the record, there are quite a few STDs that you can get rid of with antibiotics or prevent with vaccines (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphillis, HBV, HPV). The idea that horrible diseases or pregnancy and childrearing should be some kind of punishment for women who have sex is destructive, misogynistic, and wrong.

The idea that women can't make up their mind without some kind of manipulative "help" is mindblowing to me.

Wabi said...

For most of the first trimester a baby looks more like a lima bean than a human. The idea that an early scan is going to provide constructive info to a mother on the fence about abortion when the technician has to point out which end is the HEAD seems a wee bit disingenuous. And if all a scan does is say "Hi Mom and Dad" without imparting any other info, then that's propoganda, not healthcare.

Also, I wanted to add that I am a woman who ended a planned pregnancy due to the discovery of an incompatible-with-life anomaly. Wanna talk about scans? I had printouts of them on the refrigerator when I went in for my termination. And in my case those pictures *did* look like a baby, because I didn't discover my child's disorder until the second trimester.

My daughter's illness promised a brief and painful life. I always feel the abortion itself was mercy. It was the only kindness available in a terrible situation, and I will always be grateful I could do it.

Comments like Kathy's about mandatory scans before abortions strike me as small minded and small hearted. As I stated before, they are propoganda, not healthcare.

One last scan would not have changed my decision. It would have simply made me feel disrespected and stabbed away at my dignity.

Stephen said...

It is interesting how people can claim to have "no political or religious" agenda but be anti-choice, or work at a CPC where the entire basis of their work is that abortion is morally wrong in God's eyes. Sounds like a religious agenda to me.
And "post-abortion syndrome" has been thoroughly debunked.

Birth Junky said...

The decision to have an ultrasound is a personal decision (even in a wanted pregancy). The requirement to have an ultrasound and be shown it is clearly just a tactic by anti-choice advocates. There is a clear difference between a requirement and an option.

Example - at the NYC family planning center where i was formerly employed, women attending an appointment for an abortion received ultrasounds as a means of determining how far along their pregnancies were so the type of termination needed could be determined. During the ultrasound, the screen was turned away from them and sound was off - a considerate measure as these women have come to the office for termination of pregnancy. If they asked to see the screen or hear the heartbeat, that request was certainly granted. During pre-procedure counseling, they were given the option to see the printout of the ultrasound. It was never forced upon them. Some women choose to see the ultrasound and ask questions, others do not. And that is ok. It is their choice and they are doing what they feel is best for themselves, their families, and their lives. We should respect that no matter what our personal politics may be.

Thank you Rebirthnurse for talking about such a frustrating issue in women's healthcare. I have listened to many patients tell stories about the misinformation and slanted political "healthcare" they have received at these bogus centers. It's maddening.

http://studentbabycatcher.wordpress.com/

womantowomancbe said...

Wabi,
Most women do not abort as you did, but choose an abortion due to an unwanted and/or unintended pregnancy. My comment was related to a woman contemplating abortion, and seeing the baby or knowing about fetal development may have a bearing on whether or not she chooses to abort. I recently read of a woman who some years ago had an abortion around 8 weeks of pregnancy, and was falsely told by the PP clinic that the baby's heart wasn't beating yet, and that it was "basically a blood clot". The woman considered it murder to have an abortion after the baby's heart began beating, but not before; so she would not have consented to the abortion had she known the truth. When she found out the truth, some years later, she was horrified and devastated at what she had done. She gave consent, but with false information. Had she had an ultrasound, she could have seen the beating heart for herself.


Stephen,
PAS has not been thoroughly debunked. Here is one abstract: "Some psychopathological characteristics are frequently observed in women who have voluntarily aborted. However, some resistance currently remains to their recognition as a differentiated nosological category, known as Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS). We tried to assign a diagnostic category to women with PAS by determining the extent by which they fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of international classifications. Criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were met in the ten PAS cases studied. In addition, patients also showed other non-specific symptoms such as repeated and persistent dreams and nightmares related with the abortion, intense feelings of guilt and the "need to repair". PAS should be considered as an additional type of PTSD. It also has some specific characteristics that could help to understand the patient's life experience and to establish a psychotherapeutic intervention."

Were it thoroughly debunked, this study would not have been undertaken. Perhaps not all women experience this -- just as not all Vietnam vets did not experience PTSD -- but some do, although it's ignored by the pro-abortion lobby. Some studies that look at PAS only look at women in the short-term, and would have missed the woman mentioned above who did not feel traumatized until years later when she discovered that the PP clinic had lied to her about fetal development. You can look on Google Scholar for more information -- I won't put in any more links lest it get filtered to spam.

-Kathy

momstinfoilhat said...

Thanks for this post. It is a shame these fake non health care centers have been funded by our tax dollars. That money could go to help support women who do want to continue their pregnancies real health care.

Ironically (or maybe not) many of these same centers also discourage birth control.

Birth Junky said...

I am concerned by the use of the term "pro-abortion lobby". I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe pro-choice = pro-abortion. Far from it. Pro-choice means having faith in women and families to work with their healthcare providers to make an educated and smart decision about what is best for their lives.

In the ideal world, there would be no need for abortion. However, that is not even close to a reality. In an ideal world, every person would receive comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education starting when they are very young and have the means by which to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy. Again, we are not even close to this reality. I have yet to meet someone in my life that would label themselves "pro-abortion" and personally find the term quite offensive.

Please think twice before throwing around this term in the future.

publichealthdoula said...

Whether or not a CPC offers support later on, I still think offering the ultrasound and writing those words is disingenuous. It IS a ploy, whether or not it's followed up with diapers and baby hats. And women don't just have babies - they have babies, who are then children, or are then preteens, teenagers...an unplanned pregnancy generates needs way beyond diapers. Do CPCs provide resources for mothers at all stages?

@Joy: I don't think anyone needs to be punished for having sex at a time when they can't support a baby. They need resources and excellent family planning services so that unplanned pregnancies won't happen. Yet most anti-abortion politicians are also adamantly opposed to family planning funding. I really don't understand that at all.

What bothers me most about CPCs is that they are NOT upfront about their agendas. They run ads like "Pregnant? You have options!" But they'll do everything in their power to discourage women from actually freely choosing their options. I used to volunteer at a reproductive health clinic (not Planned Parenthood but very similar) - they had NO agenda. Women were equally counseled about ALL their options and allowed to make their own decision without coercion. That CPCs would hijack that image without being honest that they are anti-abortion is very disturbing to me.

womantowomancbe said...

Birth Junky,

I have met people who call themselves "pro-choice" but their words identify them as being actually "pro-abortion." Those who vilified Sarah Palin for not aborting her youngest son when she found out he had Down Syndrome come to mind. Perhaps you didn't see them, but here is a link to a blog post to lots more links. Just a couple of quotes: "Sarah Palin’s judgment is despicalble. She knowingly whelped a Mongoloid child earlier this year, probably to pander to the Right to Life Nutbags" and "She should have aborted the Downs child…. no, giving him life was not the best thing" for starters. Does this sound "pro-choice" or does it sound "pro-abortion"?

-Kathy

Basiorana said...

"I've never met a single person whose had an abortion and NOT regretted it. And I've met many, many who've had abortions."

Weird, I've met tons of people who've had abortions, and every single one of them regrets getting pregnant, because the process was expensive and painful, but still acknowledges it was an enormous relief and thinks the abortion was the best thing that they could have done under the circumstances. Regretting not doing it sooner is of course common, but that's not regretting the abortion, that's regretting waiting or not knowing until it was later than desired-- they still do not regret terminating the pregnancy itself. Perhaps they are simply telling you what they believe you want to hear?

I have never known a person to claim to regret an abortion itself until they join a religious group that requires them to, and shames them for haivng one-- and then one has to wonder, how much of their vitriol and trauma is true regret, and how much is fear that their relief is a sin? Numerous surveys have confirmed that the overwhelmingly most common feeling after an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy is relief (as opposed to a wanted pregnancy, which causes grief-- alas, most "studies" supporting PAS include women who did not want to abort but needed to due to medical concerns for themselves or their fetus).

This includes many young women who did see the fetus; one girl I knew said it looked like a tumor or alien and said the early confirmation ultrasound only encouraged her to do the procedure faster.

perhaps it is different in areas where one is almost universally culturally expected to hate abortions, such as certain areas of the south. I can certainly imagine being daily told how you will rot in hell for murdering your baby and being referred to as a murdering slut behind your back would cause signficant distress, including nightmares and a need to "fix" yourself so you can fit in with society again. In secular areas, abortions do not cause PAS; indeed, the most plausible explanation for the "prevalence" of PAS in conservative areas and the total abscence in liberal areas is that it is not the abortion that causes the syndrome, it is the cultural disgrace and constant shaming.

CPCs may not always shame the women themselves, but they are a symptom of a society in which shaming occurs.

I've long felt they should be required by law to prominently display everywhere, and tell patients directly, "We are not a medical clinic; we do not provide any medical services. We will not give medical advice. We are opposed to the practice of abortion and wish to offer assistance for women who are uncertain about financial and emotional difficulties of raising a child." That way they could provide assistance to those who had already decided they didn't want the child, but women would not stumble in thinking it was a medical office, or that it wanted to discuss options with them.

Birth Junky said...

Kathy,

Many of the quotes on the link you sent me to were questionable as some didn't have a reference. Regardless, this is not a he-said, she-said battle about opinions regarding control over a woman's body. Whoever made the statement about Palin's child doesn't sound pro-choice or pro-abortion: they sound like a whack job that should butt out and not pass judgment on Ms. Palin's childbearing decision.

Furthermore, this pandering around with terminology to undermine the reproductive health and rights issue is nothing more than a waste of time. This is another example of lapsing into propaganda instead of healthcare. While we are talking about what to call ourselves, women (some just like Rebirth's patient) are being faced with difficult choices about pregnancy and childbearing that we can not understand until we have "walked a mile in their shoes". The debate needs to change. We need to find ways to support pregnancy prevention (not abstinence only - the real kind: comprehensive sexual health education), we need to provide women with opportunities to be an active participant in their own healthcare so they can have the agency to make important decisions about their reproductive health before pregnancy even becomes an issue.

womantowomancbe said...

Basiorana,

"Weird, I've met tons of people who've had abortions, and every single one of them...still acknowledges it was an enormous relief and thinks the abortion was the best thing that they could have done under the circumstances.... Perhaps they are simply telling you what they believe you want to hear?"

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Perhaps the people are merely telling you what they believe you want to hear. It works both ways.

I do not doubt that some people come to regret former actions, while others never do; and that religion would obviously have something to do with it. That does not make religion evil, nor does it invalidate grief, regret, nor anything else. Nor does it necessarily make the former decision right or wrong.

Take, for example, Joseph Stalin who murdered millions of people. It would seem obvious that he never regretted it. But suppose he converted to some religion -- any religion -- that deemed murder to be wrong (I believe most religions would have that as one of their major tenets). Undoubtedly, as part of his conversion process, he would come to see his former actions in the light of his new beliefs, and would hopefully express great regret and grief over the cold-blooded slaughter he ordered. That wouldn't make the murders any more wrong than they already were; but his reaction would change, because he would see them not as killing innocent people. This could also happen without religion; some non-religious moral codes also stand aghast at the brutality of Stalin, and condemn the murders as wrong. Should Stalin have come to believe in that moral code, he would likewise change his mind about his actions. Just because a person expresses little or no regret over something doesn't mean the action is right or justifiable. There are gang-land shootings all over America every day, with people killing each other without remorse. Doesn't make it right. One might also regret *not* killing someone; and others might regret not "sowing their wild oats", etc. Regret does not in itself *make* something wrong or right.

-Kathy

momstinfoilhat said...

Kathy-

Did you miss the Inquisition? Having religion does not prevent mass murder or torture.

Many would argue our last president was both very pious and overwhelmingly in support of capital punishment (as a governor and as president) and started two wars with many casualties, not to mention the rendering, the torture, etc. Hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder.

Basiorana said...

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Perhaps the people are merely telling you what they believe you want to hear. It works both ways."

Well, they aren't just telling me. They're telling anonymous researchers, automated phone surveys, online surveys... The APA analyzed the evidence and found that abortion of an unwanted pregnancy "does not pose a psychological hazard for most women." A May 2006 report by the Guttmacher Institute stated that the APA has found that "women who are terminating pregnancies that are wanted or who lack support from their partner or parents for the abortion may feel a greater sense of loss, anxiety and distress. For most women, however, the time of greatest distress is likely to be before an abortion; after an abortion, women frequently report feeling 'relief and happiness.'"

The Royal Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom also did an independent long term (11 years) study of over 13,000 women in the UK, dividing women into groups: unintended pregnancies that ended in abortion, and unintended pregnancies carried to term. Women who had abortions had no higher risk of subsequent mental health problems than the women who carried the pregnancies through-- no depression, anxiety, grief, or nightmares.

The majority of studies, and all of those which control for preexisting conditions (women predisposed to depression may be more likely to have self esteem issues, and thus have unprotected sex resulting in unwanted pregnancies, for example) confirm what those around me have said: Women feel relief. They do not experience PTSD-like symptoms. A woman's mental/emotional health is not at risk in the slightest by having an abortion.

Your analogy to Joseph Stalin is interesting. Stalin suffered from severe paranoia to the level of mental illness; that is why he ordered mass murders and killed some of his closest advisers. Thus, were he a member of a religion that believed murder was wrong, it would be irrelevant. How often do we hear of paranoid schizophrenic Christians murdering family members? It is the mental illness that causes the actions. The only way Stalin would have felt regret is if he was placed on very heavy medication to control his severe paranoia.

As for the question of whether abortion could be wrong regardless of how women feel after it, that may be true; but to do that you must prove that a) the fetus is a person starting at conception, and b) the fetus has more rights to the woman's body than she does. For now, all we can determine is that a small minority of religions currently believe that (most believe the soul enters sometime between first breath and two years old, and only outlaw or discourage abortion for members because they have an imperative to increase their numbers [Islam], they wish to punish women for their sin of sex outside wedlock [Islam and others], or they are concerned about the physical risk some abortive methods pose to the mother [Buddhism]). To declare it is some universal truth that personhood begins at conception and the fetus has more rights than the mother is to declare your religion is the only one anyone should have, and all others are inferior. You can believe that, but laws should not be based on it in a country with freedom of religion.

Jen said...

LaborNurse CNM: "Perhap the individuals performing the ultrasound did not think they were working for the larger political picture but rather providing a clinical service..."

This seems just a way to dismiss them and the work they are trying to do, labeling it as just another part of a political agenda that you don't like. And saying it sounds a little like you're claiming that they haven't thought through what they are doing, but are merely pawns in a political game, who are unaware of the larger implications of their actions.

I can tell you that I've thought very hard about this issue. There are many factors that influenced my decision to be pro-life, but politics wasn't one of them, rather my pro-life stance effects my politics.

Dismissing those at the CPC as politic pawns is an oversimplification.

Jen said...

aedesaegyptii: "I think forcing women who want an abortion to have to look at an ultrasound of the baby is imposing a medically unnecessary treatment on them. It would be like making men who want a vasectomy watch a video of another guy getting his vas clipped - so not the point."

Having a woman look at an ultrasound is very different than having a man view a vasectomy. It would be similar to having a man look at a picture of the male genitalia, including internal structures, as part of ensuring that he can give informed consent for the surgery. I think that in both cases, ability to give informed consent relies on how much information is provided ahead of time.

"For the record, Planned Parenthood does offer counseling and support for women with a variety of health problems and would no doubt try to help someone who suffered from depression after an abortion. I wonder how crisis pregnancy centers do treating women for postpartum depression?"

I'm not sure how helpful Planned Parenthood would be. I once talked with a woman who had volunteered with PP for 10 yrs, and she told me that they would only give a woman information about Adoption "if she asks for it." Meaning that she would have to come in knowing that this may be an option for her. But many women don't understand the adoption process and therefore can't make an informed decision about it.

A client told me that she had been to PP and asked about information on adoption and the handed her a single brochure, and never once discussed it with her during the visit. How is that informed consent? How is that helpful?

As for Post-Partum depression, CPC's differ on what level of care that they can provide. I would guess that most CPC's would refer to the woman to an outside counselor for therapy. However, many of the volunteers at our center had psych. backgrounds, either Social workers or Therapists, and could recognizes the symptoms. We also had therapists come in and teach our Advocates how to recognize PPD.

"The idea that horrible diseases or pregnancy and childrearing should be some kind of punishment for women who have sex is destructive, misogynistic, and wrong."

Not sure who said this. I certainly don't feel that way. Pregnancy and STD's are natural consequences of sexual activity.

Anyone who is having sex should know what the risks are.

There isn't anyway to remove these consequences.... treatments do not remove the disease. A woman who has had an abortion as still had that experience of having (in most cases) an unwanted pregnancy and now she has to live with that experience.

People who volunteer at CPC's just want to help her make the decision for "type of treatment" base on as much information as is possible.

womantowomancbe said...

Basiorana,

"As for the question of whether abortion could be wrong regardless of how women feel after it, that may be true; but to do that you must prove that a) the fetus is a person starting at conception, and b) the fetus has more rights to the woman's body than she does."

Medically speaking and genetically speaking, the fetus is a completely separate and distinct living human from conception. Books on embryology, genetics, and such are uniform on that. Then it becomes a political or philosophical issue about whether or not that new human life should be protected or not. A battle of semantics over what the meaning of "person" is.

But as to the second point -- what about the fetus's rights of "bodily integrity"? The fetus did not choose to be put into the mother's womb: in the overwhelming super-majority of cases, the fetus is created by an act of consensual sex. The woman chooses to have sex, but the baby has to bear the brunt of the punishment for it. Though a living, genetically distinct human, it has no right to bodily integrity.

Statistically speaking, more than half of the babies aborted worldwide are female -- because boys are preferred over girls, and societies such as China (with a one-child policy) and India (with heavy favoritism for boys, with girls viewed as worthless or less-worth), have now tipped the natural balance of nearly even ratio sexes (I think about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls, naturally speaking), so that there may be 120-150 boys born for every girl. Does it not bother you that females are being marked for termination simply by virtue of their sex?

-Kathy

man-nurse said...

I think it's bizarre to put words on the ultrasound, but the pregnancy care centers which try to avoid abortions around here do follow up with child care and aid, even to like ten years old.

I can see the frustration with 'fake abortion clinics' but I think it's a bit simplistic to think that 'many pro-lifers' just want to save the baby and then drop it.

mommasara said...

i work for a pregnancy resource center, have for years, and yes, we do help the women her whole pregnancy and after, as long as she needs. The one I work for has RN's that do the ultrasounds, that have been certified to do ultrasounds. I am a doula and a breastfeeding counselor, and i have personally offered those services for free, taken women and babies into my home, given clothing, diapers, rides to doctor apt's, etc. I even came close to fostering a clients baby when the child was taken away by CPS (the Grandma stepped in).
And I am not alone. I only do a small amount compared to the other volunteers and staff. It's really arrogant to assume we don't know what we are doing, and that we don't care about anything but the baby surviving-we care about quality of life as well. We believe every baby is precious and worth saving. We believe every pregnant women and mother should be nurtured and loved. I think you should do more research before you make unfounded ill-informed accusations and slurs on our character.

Aubrey Kinnaman said...

I guess my question is whether or not she was charged for this ultrasound and medical services. Many care centers provide these services free of charge and are supported by the donations of interests groups. It is their right as a private organization to offer any bias they like. They are not publicly supported. I would assume if this girl is old enough to understand what sex is, she also understands that everything free has something behind it. We shouldn't criticize these places just because we disagree with their opinion. They are largely volunteer organizations and funded privately by donations. Let them operate as they see fit.