Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kicking around ideas

There seems to be room for some common ground in the idea that women ought to be afforded some sort of counseling, information, consultation, what-have-you, prior to an abortion, to ensure that she really does know the risks, that she isn't being pushed or coerced, that she really does know the resources that are available to her in her community.

Some folks lean toward the responsibility for this lying on the abortion facility. Others indicate that this isn't their job, that they're the providers of a surgical service that's already been chosen. But what other surgery allows self-referral?

So I'm gonna toss out a few ideas.

1. David Reardon proposed an idea I like: A designated entity -- maybe public health officials, which I believe was the people Reardon suggested, though I think a reference librarian could do the job -- would maintain date-stamped information about abortion risks, and fetal development, and what resources are available to the woman in her community. It would be up to each abortion practitioner which information to share with a patient, but if she was dissatisfied afterward, and the time-stamped information was not shared with her in the consult, the practitioner is open to a lawsuit for having fallen short on informed consent.

2. The fairly standard "informed consent," which has its problems because the information tends to be gathered by those who favor birth, and when clinic staff offer it to the women (I get this from NAF tapes), the woman is told something like, "I'm required by law to offer you this packet of lies and misinformation designed to try to frighten, intimidate, and shame you. If you want it, sign here. If you don't, sign here." But there could be ways around that.

3. Abortions being done by referral only, and the referring physician is responsible for the informed consent.

4. Abortions being done by referral, but the referral can be from any approved counseling entity, which can be a Planned Parenthood, social worker, physician, nurse-practitioner, or other professional.

5. Abortions can only be done if the clinic has some documentation that the woman has visited a doctor, social worker, PP, CPC, etc.

I'm just tossing up ideas here. I'm not particularly enamored of any of them, other than that I like Reardon's idea because it puts the enforcement in the women's hands. But the drawback is that the woman has to realize that she had that redress.

Anybody? The field is open.

No comments: