Monday, May 07, 2007

Your Tax Dollars Funding Bad Medicine (with update)

Today's National Post contains a flurry of letters to the editor in response to Anne Marie Owen's May 5 article, The "A" Word. Abortion is a subject that typically polarizes Canadians into two emotional camps of morality vs. 'rights'.

What is interesting is that the letters were all in favour of reopening the debate. The Post usually tries to be balanced in their Letters section, so I can only assume that there were few if any letters asking that this not be discussed (although I suppose the very act of writing in would be a form of debate).

Owens' point of view seems to be skewed towards the question of accessibility rather than morality, so I am guessing that she is on the 'Right to Choose' side. The language that she uses gives her away:

If the organizers of the 10th March for Life are right, more than 5,000 anti-abortion activists are likely to descend on Parliament Hill next week for their annual campaign lobbying for dramatic legislative change.

Yet there will likely be no televised images of the demonstration and only sparse coverage from the mainstream media of an event that those on the other side of the debate typically characterize as a gathering of a couple hundred radicals from the fringe.

The campaign's media liaison, Wanda Hartlin, is accustomed to hearing the complaints of members frustrated each year by the resounding silence of media coverage of their key public awareness exercise.

"I don't think the media is that interested in religious topics and the media sees this as a religious topic," she says. "I don't think the media is ignoring us. I think you take us from a different direction ?

"We call ourselves pro-life. The media calls us anti-abortion. The pro-choice people call us anti-choice."


Perhaps one of the best reasons for reopening this debate (in spite of the fact that it is political poison) is the compelling insight found in the following letter by Dr. Philip Ney of Victoria:

...Since abortion is a medical procedure, performed by medical staff in medical facilities and paid for by medical funding, the debate should be: is abortion good medicine? There is rapidly growing evidence that abortion does considerably more harm than good. Abortion is bad medicine. This is the reason that more women are successfully suing doctors for their abortion related harms. It is the reason that it is increasingly difficult to recruit physicians and nurses to perform abortions.


Another letter from Denise Mountenay of Canada Silent No More affirms this viewpoint:

...Most of us were only teenagers when we found out we were pregnant, pressured to have abortions by our boyfriends and parents. We were told it was "just a clump of tissue" ? "just a fetus" ? so we believed that if doctors, those who cared about us and government thought it was OK, that it must be all right

As founder and president of Canada Silent No More, I've been reaching out to the thousands of women suffering in silence about their abortion pain. Most women live with deep remorse, regret, shame and guilt from the choice to abort their babies. We were not informed about all of the risk factors, or trauma it would cause...



So it appears that this publicly-funded, universally-available medical procedure is not only lethal to pre-born humans, but also carries a significant risk to the patient who may not be made aware of all the implications at the time of a very emotional crisis.

Where is the medical value here?


* * * *

Tuesday Update: Today's Post Letters section deals exclusively with the A-word. Who says Canadians don't want to talk about this? Some of the opinions have been reprinted from the Post's blog. I found this one particularly noteworthy:

SaintNobody said: The whole point of the abortion debate is that pro-lifers are arguing that unborn children deserve rights. We don't kill newborns because we can't afford to raise them. We don't kill old people because they're terminally ill. We should adopt the same standard for unborn children. Personal autonomy is great, but not at the cost of killing another human being.

In 1968, when Pierre Trudeau legalized abortion, he took away the rights of a whole class of human beings. Now that's scary.



Very good argument. It all comes back to the arbitrary legal decision to call a human being a "person" once he or she has fully emerged from the mother's body, never mind that preemies are able to survive months earlier if they are wanted.

What has happened is that we have given pregnant women the power to play God with regards to human life. Then some doctors practice bad medicine by enabling this circumvention of the human rights of those who will never be allowed to vote; which is why politicians side with the Pro-Choicers.




36 comments:

Peter said...

Where you may see clarity in this, for others including myself the answer will never be clear. For example, I don't favour late term abortions, but I'm alright with early abortions because of the way I define life. There is no set definition and that's what will always fuel this debate forever. It's pointless.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Peter, yes, I tend to agree with you, based on the old arguments.

However, if we frame the debate over a physicians' oath to do greater medical good than harm, then the burden is taken away from the individual and placed squarely on the shoulders of the medical community. At least that's how I see it.

Peter said...

And in medical school there's a whole course on those ethics :P

The ethical decisions that are made can be based on medical definitions of human life, or emotional (perhaps a strong word) understanding of life. In Canada, the final decision to perform an abortion ends with the physician. What I tend to disagree with is the often violent protests and death threats physicians receive for performing this procedure out of mercy, which is mistaken for malice.

Mary said...

I think that if you peel back all the layers it has to do with conscience.
Our creator endowed us with a conscience and we go against it at our own expense and peril.

Abortion is an easy way out, so everyone is told, usually to avoid an inconvenience, or an embarrassment, or what ever reason at the time.
But there are consequences for any action we take to avoid the prick of conscience.
So when we are told that it is just fetal tissue, the natural reaction is whew, I avoided that problem and I can see light at the end of the tunnel now and go for it.
But the problem surfaces sometime later in a person’s journey through this life. Somehow it is the woman who pays and pays over and over again. She gets the pain of the abortion and the pain of a guilty conscience to deal with over and over again.
And we have not even begun to deal with the consciences of the medical community. So the price being paid is high, both for the medical community and the female.

Jim Pettit said...

When you talk about abortion being lethal to pre-born humans, you prejudge the issue as one of the reasons abortions are legal is that the law does not consider the fetus as human.

There can't be a debate unless people can agree on assumptions. Here, you are driving people away as they don't agree with your religious bias.

Peter said...

Mary you raise some interesting points. However, I do have to ask, who are you to tell anyone that they cannot make that choice for themselves, experience that pain for themselves? If they make that decision is it not their right to live with it? I am not trying to be confrontational, but I encourage rational thought. The problem is always skirted by the "pro-life" or "anti-abortion" crowd by addressing religious and emotional issues. However, we can't have rational debate based on those terms because the premise itself is not rational. Faith is a great thing, but blind faith blocks the truth. What that is I'm not sure myself, but I believe that if this issue were to truly open itself up, there needs to be logical and rational discussion rather than the heartstrings and bullheaded arguments presented by the zealots on both sides.

Mary said...

As I said before it is usually the WOMEN that pay a big price but maybe some of the men do too.

Canadi-anna said...

jim -- It isn't religious bias that makes many people see the fetus as human or at the very least, a living entity. It's technology.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

you prejudge the issue as one of the reasons abortions are legal is that the law does not consider the fetus as human.

Jim, if the fetus is not human, what is it then? Monkey tissue?

I think you're confusing the word "human" with "person".

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link where I can get info on Canada's abortion laws? A female friend and I were discussing this just last week, and I thought (hopefully incorrectly) that Canada's abortion laws were really quite lax, in terms of gestational time....if that's the correct word.

Does anyone know, because what I tried to find out through google was confusing.

Thanks.

raz

Red Tory said...

Possibly the shortest retirement on record. Congrats! ;)

Nice to see you back.

Charles said...

I just want to say that this is the most civil blog I have ever seen about abortion. When I read the intro I thought, oh no. I don't want to read the comments with everyone at each other's throats, but I was surprised. I would say pleasantly but I believe abortion is murder from the word go, and it still goes on.
Peter: I just wanted to say that in life you can't seperate religion and emotion from a debate because most people are inherantly both. If we could do as you ask we would have already beaten the eco-nazis and socialists on the field of common sense and logic.

Kunoichi said...

the law does not consider the fetus as human.

The law does not recognize a human fetus as a "person."

It wasn't that long ago that Canadian law didn't recognize women as "persons," either. Some countries still don't recognize women as "persons."

Laws change. That fact that law doesn't recognize fetal status as an individual, unique yet dependent on the mother, right now, doesn't mean it won't some day in the future.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Does anyone have a link where I can get info on Canada's abortion laws? A female friend and I were discussing this just last week, and I thought (hopefully incorrectly) that Canada's abortion laws were really quite lax, in terms of gestational time....if that's the correct word.

Raz, unfortunately you are correct. To the best of my knowledge there is absolutely no law at all about abortion in Canada (possibly with the exception of New Brunswick), meaning that abortions are available on demand and funded entirely by the taxpayer.

Does anyone have an information to the contrary or to elaborate on what I've said? Thanks.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, thanks. I seem to need time right away from the computer once in a while. Good for the soul; and for gaining perspective. But it's always gratifying to know I'm missed (even by you!) ;)

Charles, thanks for your input and the compliment about the tone of civility. I am really trying to maintain an attitude of respect for various points of view since this can be a very volatile topic.


Kunoichi - It wasn't that long ago that Canadian law didn't recognize women as "persons," either. Some countries still don't recognize women as "persons."

That is an excellent point. As technology evolves and the age of viability becomes even younger in terms of gestational age, I think that the question of when a human being becomes a "person" will become increasingly hard to defend as the point of birth.

Jim Pettit said...

Joanne (True Blue), you are correct. The last Canadian law on abortion was overturned by the Supreme Court so that there is no specific current law on the the topic.

We have to turn to the Criminal Code which talks about causing the death of a human being and, according to Canadian practice, a fetus is not a human being, the problem of course is that there is no way to determine when a fetus could become a human being except for birth as the fetus starts as a single cell which is obviously not a human being and develops toward huminity.

SUZANNE said...

there is no way to determine when a fetus could become a human being except for birth as the fetus starts as a single cell which is obviously not a human being and develops toward huminity.

By all the laws of science, that single-cell is a human being, just a very young one. That cell is an organism unto itself, member of homo homo sapiens.

That is a biological fact.

The issue is: do we acknowledge that that human being has rights.

Anonymous said...

"Raz, unfortunately you are correct. To the best of my knowledge there is absolutely no law at all about abortion in Canada (possibly with the exception of New Brunswick), meaning that abortions are available on demand and funded entirely by the taxpayer."

Thanks Joanne....that's what I found by googling, but frankly, I couldn't believe it. What have we become???

raz

Joanne (True Blue) said...

What have we become???

Indeed.

liberal supporter said...

By all the laws of science,

Where are you when the topic is climate change? Then we are told science is just the religious beliefs of cult members.

PGP said...

What can you possible say on this matter that has not already been said?

I for one do not wish to see ideologically motivated doctors making decisions! On ANY matter!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

PGP - Please elaborate. Doesn't the final decision rest with the doctor?

PGP said...

You appear to be making a case for doctors to refuse to perform abortions based on their moral convictions.
I am asserting that this is a slippery slope and not anything I would support. It's NOT the doctor's place to moralize.

Medical care has nothing to do with subjective morality. And as long as the LAW says that abortion is a medical matter then that's what it is.

The only issue is whether the individuals affected choose or decline the options they have available. The consequences of those decisions are their's to bear ever after and NOT the province of others to interfere with.

Anonymous said...

When in doubt, go to Wikipedia, even though you aren't guaranteed 100% accuracy.

Here's a link to a map of the world showing the various countries and their status on abortion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law

raz

Joanne (True Blue) said...

You appear to be making a case for doctors to refuse to perform abortions based on their moral convictions..

PGP - It's my understanding that a doctor may refuse to do an abortion, but they must provide a referral.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Raz, that's interesting. The Northern Hemisphere has very few restrictions compared to the Southern.

Swift said...

There are a number of possible starting points for human life.

1. When the egg is fertalized
2. When the fertalized egg attatches itself to the uterus
3. When the cell tissues start differentiating
4. When there is the first brain activity
5. When the fetus can live outside the womb with medical help
6. When the fetus can live outside the womb without medical help
7. When the fetus is born

Criteria 5 through 7 seem to me to be indefensible.

an aside to Lib supporter, if you are interested in real science to support climate change, you have to eliminate the Summary for Policy Makers put out by the IPCC and much of the "science" in the Science portion just released. It seems that the global wrming supporters don't know the fundamental principals of the scientific method.

Red Tory said...

Joanne — I was going to write some laudatory (no pun intended) stuff about you yesterday, but then I thought... "Nah, she'll be back at it the next day and then you'll feel like a right prat."

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Swift - I totally agree with your criteria analysis.

Red - I'm almost choking up here. *Sniff*.

But when did I ever say I was retiring? I was merely weighing the pros & cons of continuing to blog. Then *poof* I got lured back by my awesome readers (and that would include you).

SUZANNE said...

By all the laws of science,

Where are you when the topic is climate change? Then we are told science is just the religious beliefs of cult members.


As a matter of fact, Liberal Supporter, I don't have an opinion on the issue precisely because I haven't looked at the science. I'm fairly sure we'll manage, though.

Roy Eappen said...

Why should a doctor or a nurse be forced to act agaisnt their beliefs. It is increasingly difficult to find doctors abd nurses who will do this now.
We need to limit late abortions. Babies can now survive at 23 weeks. They are likely sentient well before. In Canada you can kill a baby in the womb up to the ninth month. The Hippocratic Oath proscribes abortion, but the modern versions cut that out.

Anonymous said...

Raz, that's interesting. The Northern Hemisphere has very few restrictions compared to the Southern.

..I know...it would be interesting to make a faith-based study with the geographics of this map.

raz

Red Tory said...

It's not actually all that surprising. Generally, the more secularized the country, the more amenable it is to providing women with legal access to abortion. I don't think the faith-based analysis beyond that level would really be all that enlightening.

Mary said...

I guess we as a country are not encouraged to give birth but look for the easy way out. But now some of the European nations realize that they are aborting themselves out of existence all the while some of their populations are in a race to re-populate the earth with their particular culture and faith.

So the race is on, which is why France is now offering an incentive for more of the French women to have a second and third babies, to at least replace themselves.

And the changing face of the countries involved will bring to bear, questions in the western countries about a new more restrictive future culture than they are used to living in.

So the abortion question hangs heavy....to be or not to be!

JR said...

pgp > "It's NOT the doctor's place to moralize. Medical care has nothing to do with subjective morality. And as long as the LAW says that abortion is a medical matter then that's what it is."

Don't know about that. Medical procedures that any given doctor may be willing or unwilling to provide has everything to do with subjective morality. And the LAW is neither the first nor the final word on what's right/just/moral only what's 'legal'. Laws can and often should be changed.

Peter > "...I don't favour late term abortions, but I'm alright with early abortions.... There is no set definition and that's what will always fuel this debate forever. It's pointless".

Given your stated opinion on abortion I don't see how you conclude debate is "pointless". Like you, I think late term abortion is wrong - it can be tantamount to legalized murder and so there should be a law that severely restricts it. It's far from pointless to debate the issue.

Joanne, glad you decided to stick around :)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

JR - Thanks for you excellent points and your encouragement. That's what keeps me going.

(Did manage to get a game of golf in though) ;)