Thursday, November 17, 2005

Achieving Peace in the Abortion War, Chapter 3

We've started to read and discuss Rachel McNair's Achieving Peace in the Abortion War. So far we've read chapters 1 and 2. Today we'll look at Chapter 3, Dealing With It:
Dr. Hern and Nurse Corrigan reported on their own staff. "Reactions to viewing the fetus ranged from 'I haven't looked' to shock, dismay, amazement, disgust, fear, and sadness." .... "We discerned that the following psychological defenses were used by staff members at various times to handle the traumatic impact of the destructive part of the operation: denial, sometimes through literal distance from viewing the procedure itself; projection, as evidenced by concern or anguish for other staff members assisting with or performing the procedure; and intellectualization. Popularly, the latter took the form of discussing the pros and cons of performing the D & E procedure and rationalizing its value."


The later the pregnancy and the larger the fetus, the harder it becomes to distance. Joy Davis gives another explanation, "When you did a suction procedure, it would come out in pieces, it would go in the jar, it would go in a stocking, it would go in a cup. You didn't actually see the baby. When you did a second and third trimester, if they come out in pieces, we were better. It didn't bother us as bad. If they come out intact, we had a dead baby there. So all of us would cry a lot, and all of us would hurt over that."


Putting the tasks into different divisions is needed and used, but putting the responsibility into different compartments is also quite necessary as a defense. Nurse Sallie Tisdale explains, "I couldn't be here if I tried to judge each case on its merits; after all, we do over a hundred abortions a week. . . For me, the limit is allowing my clients to carry their own burden, shoulder the responsibility themselves. I shoulder the burden of trying not to judge them."


The best way to counter a fantasy is to show the reality. With the wonders of modern technology, we are now able to show photographs of embryos and fetuses. We're able to do sonograms to show the movement and actuality of them at the very time it's occurring, although in shadowy form. A strong dose of reality should put a fantasy to rest. Curiously, this technique seems to be counter-productive. Former abortion doctor Joseph Randall, for example, said, "I think the greatest thing that got to us was the ultrasound. At that time, the ultrasound, or the sound wave picture which was moving, called 'real-time ultrasound,' showed the baby on TV. The baby really came alive on TV and was moving. And that picture, that picture of the baby on ultrasound bothered me more than anything else. . . . We lost two nurses. They couldn't take looking at it."

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