By Joan Thompson
The Catholic Church opposes all abortions, no matter the method, but when abortions are taking place, the safety and informed consent of the women involved should be among our chief concerns.
Women and girls in the United States have been legally entitled to end their pregnancy through abortion for over 40 years. Abortion is embedded in our culture—from research, to education, politics and policy, in the public and private sector. The decision is supported and even encouraged in marketing and media.
The leadership of professional organizations like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology consistently support unrestricted and publicly-funded access to abortion through nine months of pregnancy, and abortion has favor as a means of population control and managing the expense of the poor and dependent. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, from its small beginning, has grown to a national and global political force, becoming part of state and federal bureaucracies and generating billions from public funding, donations and its profit center of abortion.
Tens of millions of women and girls in the United States, and tens of thousands in Iowa, have made the decision for abortion since Roe v Wade was decided in 1973. It is a reality for all of us, because we all know or love family members, friends or associates who have made that choice.
Many women and men do not regret their choice, but for those that do, and will, informed consent should be reconsidered.
In reality, an appointment for an abortion doesn’t mean a woman or girl believes in the mission of the abortion clinic or subscribes to their ideology. Nor does it necessarily mean she denies the biology of her unborn child, or her faith accepts abortion, or she considers it a moral choice. She is in a state of crisis. It is fear and desperation that gets her through the door. Between a fog of mixed emotion or threats and coercion—subtle or not—it took to get her there, abortion may end the pregnancy but, in many cases, extend the crisis.
We can do better. We can accept our obligation to all of the women facing an unintended pregnancy—not only a share of them. The process of informed consent, if conducted properly and objectively, should acknowledge that many women that choose abortion are making a decision they may later regret for the rest of their life. Among the options, they need to be presented with a clear path that doesn’t require abortion, and at least a brief window to consider it. If only to confirm they are acting on their certainty, and not someone else’s.
The informed consent process before an abortion should consider what the client needs to know, separate from the interests of the abortion provider and separate from the politics or financial bottom line of the clinic. In that circumstance, women and men deserve more than the judgment of someone advancing an ideology that supports abortion or collecting a paycheck for performing one.
Women and men are seeking a way out of the crisis—not necessarily the pregnancy. The informed consent process should reflect that reality.