Response to Dr Val
I was reading Dr Val’s blog over at the Better Health Network. She has linked to an essay by a third year medical student discussing why she will perform abortions as a physician.
She voices her own opinion on the subject. I highly recommend going over and reading it yourself, I suspect I could not pick a quote that is a good summary, or summarize it myself without losing the nuance of her position.
As I mentioned in my previous piece, these are complicated issues. When we reduce them to one word ideological arguments, we oversimplify human lives. Below is my response to her post. I’ve attempted to post my reply there, but I’m not sure if it didn’t work, or if it’s being held in moderation. Let me preface this by saying I’m currently a third year medical student on my OB-GYN rotation. I’ve seen and assisted on a significant number of abortions by D/C (for the sake of discussion let’s leave it at double digits but not triple digits), I’ve also seen (watched, but did not scrub) a small number of D&E, and D&X procedures.
I have had the rare-for-a-med-student (at least at my institution) of following a patient from clinic, to abortion, to followup visit at clinic, as well as seeing a number of clinic patients before, or after abortion.
It is absolutely an emotionally complicated issue. This goes for the physician, the patient, and any staff involved.
Still, I think seeing a snapshot of a patient in preop is perhaps a biasing experience. Seeing your patient agonize of the decision in clinic changes things as well. Seeing someone unsure what to do, making decisions that alter the course of their life no matter what choice they make. It is it’s own complicated, chaotic situation.
Seeing your patient in followup provides yet another perspective. Some patients agonize. Some patients are relieved (this an understatement, but I lack a concise way to summarize their feelings). Some rationalize, intellectualize, and otherwise grieve. But few of the women I’ve talked to regret the decision they made – whether it was to carry to term or to abort.
Whether that is after the fact, with cognitive dissonance making the decision for them or not, I don’t know.
I’m not criticizing the perspective you offer, just pointing out that the issue is often much more nuanced than an explanation that a patient can give in a short time in preop/postop.
I agree that adoption should be offered more often, with more explanation. I think though, that is a failing of some training programs, which don’t teach enough about adoption as an option.
I came into medical school with a pro-choice perspective to begin with. My experience on this rotation has reinforced this for me personally. I know other people have reacted differently, with some horrified pro-choice individuals moving towards pro life, and some pro-life moving towards pro choice.
What can’t be denied is that this discussion is much more complex than those on the far right or far left would have us believe.