Thursday, November 08, 2012

What's the point of an abortion?

In anything a doctor does to/for a patient, there is a desired effect, and there are possible side effects, which might or not be unwelcome.

One that's fairly straightforward is administering pain medication. The goal of the medication is to alleviate the pain. Unwelcome side effects of the medication might include nausea and vomiting. Side effects that might or might not be unwelcome would be sleepiness or giddiness. (Some patients might be desperate for sleep, and others might be fighting to stay awake; some might enjoy the buzz of the giddiness while others might find it annoying because they're trying to be rational.)

Tooth extraction is more complex. The goal might seem simplistic at first. It's to remove the tooth, duh! But nobody goes to a dentist and says, "I do not care for this tooth. Please remove it." The tooth is being extracted for some underlying reason. The patient might be in pain from a large cavity. An abscess at the root of the tooth might be endangering the patient's health. The patient's teeth might be overcrowded, and the tooth is being extracted to make room for orthodontic work. In a dental extraction, the actual loss of the tooth is, when you get right down to it, a side effect. The actual goal of the treatment is the alleviation of pain, the prevention of the expected negative effects of the abscess, or the rearrangement of the teeth for a functional and/or attractive bite.

Abortion, I think, is far more like a tooth extraction than it is like the administration of pain medication. I want people to respond thoughtfully to the questions:

1. What is the goal of an abortion?

2. What side effects are there?  Are these side effects welcome or unwelcome?

Once the discussion gets going I'm going to start building new posts and launching new discussions based on the comments I get.

My initial thoughts.

1. What is the goal of an abortion? It depends on the circumstances. Most of the time the goal is to alleviate the woman's distress at the diagnosis of pregnancy. Sometimes, though, the goal is to alleviate a maternal health problem. Sometimes it is to prevent the live birth of a child with a health problem.

2. What are the side effects? Physical pain from the actual procedure. Increased risk of infertility and /or complications with future pregnancies. Distress at the death of the fetus. Possible immediate complications such as damage to internal organs and structures.

Your thoughts? Please, no flippancy.


Jespren said...

I think a lot of times the point is actually 'dead child'. Many woman, when asked why not adoption respond that they couldn't give the child up. Most of that initial 'ahh! I'm pregnant' isn't focused on the next 8 or 9 months but on the next 18 years. Yes, some people are just trying to avoid the pregnant months themselves. Some very, very few are doing it because pregnancy causes a strain on their health. But I think the vast majority are trying to avoid *a child*. But since *a child* could be adopted without any harm to the child while still relinquishing the mother from all financial and legal obligation, what the point of the abortion is, is a *dead child*. It is the 'me' additude which says 'if I can't have it/don't want it, no one can have it'.

Christina Dunigan said...

I don't think that really amounts to wanting a dead child. I think it's a recognition that by the time the child came to be born, they'd be attached to it.

What they're aiming for, I think, is preventing the existence of a baby that they'd then be attached to.

Heather said...

The goal of an abortion procedure is to terminate a pregnancy in order to ensure that a woman retains control over decisions impacting her body, i.e. to ensure that a woman retains the right to bodily autonomy. Nothing more, nothing les..

Christina Dunigan said...

Heather, what about abortions performed for fetal or maternal indications? What about cases where the woman is happy to be pregnant but feels as if now is a bad time?

I think you're being simplistic. Please give it more thought.

Stephanie said...

An unplanned pregnancy, a pregnancy resulting from an indiscretion, a mistimed pregnancy, a pregnancy with an adverse diagnosis, a pregnancy as the result of rape: they all seem wrong. We human beings do whatever it takes to re-establish our "rightness". So I would say the goal is to be right.
The side effect is to compound human need.