Sunday, November 18, 2012

Unwanted Pregnancies Should Be Rare. Abortions Should Be Safe and Legal.

Let me start off by saying that of course I'm against cancer surgery. I mean, it's an invasive procedure that no one wants to do, so why would anyone proclaim themselves to be in favour of cancer surgery?
Okay, so it might be that I've been reading a bit much about abortion recently and am starting to get annoyed at how many people who really need to point out that they're totally not "pro-abortion". I suppose I get the urge to do so, but it gets a bit silly when we consider just about any kind of medical intervention: in the ideal world we wouldn't have to do them because there would not exist any reason to. It's kind of redundant.
Personally, I find safe abortion to be a wonderful invention that has improved the lives of countless women, whether they needed it because they didn't want to have children or because there was a medical emergency that necessitated it. I don't think we should have to tiptoe around how much better a world with abortions is than one without it. I suppose it is possible to envision a world where we've gotten rid of unwanted pregnancy, but we've certainly never had such a world, and it's a far way off today. Preventing unwanted pregnancies is an important public health objective, however, and is definitely something we should work towards and then no one would need abortions. It's just too bad that the people who proclaim to be against abortions do not seem to care to do anything useful about it.
On another note, I hope that a restrictive exception-based approach to termination (in Ireland's case abortion is allowed to protect the "life but not health" of the mother) is an exceedingly poor approach to take, whether it's a ludicrous provision about allowing it in cases of rape (proven how, exactly) or when it leaves doctors wondering whether a situation fits the legal definition of life-threatening. Of course, in the case of Savita's tragic death, it might have been the influence of the Catholic approach that lead to an all-too-late intervention, rather than the unsettled legal situation, per se.
The link about the Catholic approach is specifically about the US, and I certainly don't know if it's similar in other parts of the world, but if it is, I hope pregnant women who get health problems stay away from Catholic hospitals. This harrowing account will definitely stick with me:
I'll never forget this; it was awful—I had one of my partners accept this patient at 19 weeks. The pregnancy was in the vagina. It was over… . And so he takes this patient and transferred her to [our] tertiary medical center, which I was just livid about, and, you know, “we're going to save the pregnancy.” So of course, I'm on call when she gets septic, and she's septic to the point that I'm pushing pressors on labor and delivery trying to keep her blood pressure up, and I have her on a cooling blanket because she's 106 degrees. And I needed to get everything out. And so I put the ultrasound machine on and there was still a heartbeat, and [the ethics committee] wouldn't let me because there was still a heartbeat. This woman is dying before our eyes. I went in to examine her, and I was able to find the umbilical cord through the membranes and just snapped the umbilical cord and so that I could put the ultrasound—“Oh look. No heartbeat. Let's go.” She was so sick she was in the [intensive care unit] for about 10 days and very nearly died… . She was in DIC [disseminated intravascular coagulopathy]… . Her bleeding was so bad that the sclera, the white of her eyes, were red, filled with blood… . And I said, “I just can't do this. I can't put myself behind this. This is not worth it to me.” That's why I left.

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