by Elizabeth Tanguay
Abortion has often been described as an important reproductive health care service. Pro-choice advocates seem to believe that abortion is a sort of treatment that many women need in order to live normal lives.
As a nursing student, one compulsory component of the program is a course entitled “Philosophical Issues in Health Care”. One of the main chapters in this section is about consent-based health care (as opposed to paternalism, but I don’t need to bore you with details). The basic idea is that the patient needs to give consent to the treatment that the doctor recommends for it to happen. So if the patient doesn’t agree with the particular treatment then the doctor cannot perform the treatment, even if the doctor believes it to be in the patient’s best interests.
For consent to be genuine, it must be informed, given voluntarily, and the patient must be competent to make such a decision. Since this isn’t a philosophy paper, but a blog, I’ll focus on the informed part of the consent.
In order for consent to be informed, the patient must be told the nature of the treatment, the possible risks associated with such a treatment, the perceived benefits, and possible alternatives to the treatment. How often does this happen in the abortion setting? How many women simply don’t know of the numerous risks of abortion, including breast cancer, infertility, depression and greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse? How many are not aware that they do have a choice other than abortion? That it is OK to place the baby for adoption of they feel they are not ready to be parents quite yet. How many are aware of what exactly the procedure entails, such as injecting a saline solution into the uterus to burn the baby alive, or dismembering the unborn baby with a vacuum or forceps, or that it may entail an operation? How many truly give voluntary consent to their abortion? How many women are forced, coerced or pressured to have an abortion from their boyfriend, family, and peers? How many more women must be taken advantage of before we do something? Everyone has the right to be informed about abortion. For more details concerning abortion and informed consent, please CLICK HERE.
As a side note, for those who are following Baby Isaiah’s story, the parents have three more weeks before the court decides Isaiah’s fate.