Friday, May 10, 2013

Did Desperate Women "Need" Gosnell's "Services"?

Many in the media have been repeating the abortion-rights activists' mantra that women went to Kermit Gosnell because nobody else was providing their "needed" abortions. The problem with this is that it presupposes that if a pregnant woman is distressed, it is the pregnancy, not her circumstances, causing her distress. Get rid of the pregnancy and presto! She is cured! But is that the case?

In a previous post, I looked at the "pregnancy as disease" model championed by abortionists such as Warren Hern. I concluded that it is the distress at the pregnant state, rather than the pregnancy itself, that is the disease.

In looking at the pregnancy itself as the disease, abortion is, logically, a fast cure. As long as the physician is taking a purely biological, narrow, limited view of his patient, an effective abortion that successfully kills the fetus and ends the pregnant state will be, by definition, a success. He need think no further about his patient and her well-being.

But if we look beyond mere biology and see the woman as a person, does accomplishing the death of the fetus and the termination of the pregnant state necessarily accomplish the goal of easing her distress?

The anguish many women experience after abortion would indicate that this can not be presumed. A physician who sees his patient not simply as a uterus to be emptied, but as a human being, is interested in her full well-being. He wants whatever treatment he provides to have a satisfactory long-term outcome for his patient. He wants to alleviate her distress, not increase it. And in abortion, the risk of increasing the distress is very real. And it is, after all, the distress, not the pregnant state itself, that is really the presenting problem in a prospective abortion patient.

I would like to step aside from abortion for a moment to look at another type of elective surgery intended to alleviate distress: cosmetic surgery.

If the surgeon looks upon his patient purely as a body, then a surgery that increases breast size or changes the shape of the patient's nose is by definition successful, regardless of whether or not the patient is relieved of whatever distress led her to the surgeon's office in the first place. A responsible cosmetic surgeon will see his patient as a human being, whose entire well-being he will address. And even a cursory online search will find that competent and caring cosmetic surgeons do see their patients as complex human beings, not simply as breasts or noses or chins. They are very concerned about the long-term well-being of their patients. Even a brief Google search is enough to produce ample evidence of this concern:

  • Proper screening key to plastic surgery success: This article looks at the documented long-term increased incidence of suicide in women who have undergone breast augmentation. While not presuming causality, it does question whether women are being adequately screened, whether the breast augmentation contributes toward the life distress that leads to suicide, and how much additional research is needed so that cosmetic surgeons can identify high-risk patients and steer them toward appropriate care.

  • Plastic surgery: Beauty or beast? This article looks at current research in the long-term prognosis of cosmetic surgery patients, and calls for more research and better screening for patients.

  • Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery: This is another article that questions the long-term impact of cosmetic surgery on body image and self image, with a focus on teenagers. The article notes that because self-image is particularly malleable in teens, extra care must be taken to ensure that treatment given to teens does not contribute to a negative self-image.

    Finally, a more self-serving piece that is nevertheless very relevant:

  • Careful screening may help to identify, avoid difficult patients: This is more of a "how to avoid being pestered and/or sued by unhappy patients" piece, but it also underscores the importance of pre-surgery screening, and of being aware that the patient is a complex human being, not a collection of body parts to be modified.

    I have seen only one person working in abortion practice -- Charlotte Taft -- that showed any real concern about the long-term impact on the woman's life. In routine abortion practice, it is simply assumed that the pregnancy itself is the entire problem, that ending the pregnancy eliminates the problem, and that any woman who suffers ill effects after her abortion is just a whiny, complaining nutcase who doesn't appreciate how fortunate she is to have had easy access to a quick abortion.

    The woman on the abortion table, far from being treated as a valuable and complex human being, is treated like a uterus to be emptied and forgotten. After the abortion she is callously dismissed, sometimes to the point of being shoved out the door to die.

    What evidence can anybody present that abortion practitioners actually see each patient as an individual, whose long-term well being is their primary concern?

  • Every one of the women referred to Kermit Gosnell could have been referred to a pregnancy help center. These centers have a long history of providing real, constructive solutions to pregnant women's problems. Rather than treating them as wombs to be emptied for a fee, these pregnancy centers view the women as deserving of individualized help that addresses her life circumstances and empowers her to improve her life.

    There are more pregnancy help centers by far than there are abortion practitioners. But until abortion-rights activists start seeing women in their circumstances, with real needs that can't be addressed by providing them with a dead fetus, women will continue to be sent to the Kermit Gosnells of the world.

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