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Thursday, March 23, 2006 

"The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion" - When the Anti-choice choose.

Via ck4829:
When the Anti-Choice Choose
By Joyce Arthur

Abortion is a highly personal decision that many women are sure they'll never have to think about until they're suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. But this can happen to anyone, including women who are strongly anti-choice. So what does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women -- abortion.

In the spring of 2000, I collected the following anecdotes directly from abortion doctors and other clinic staff in North America, Australia, and Europe. The stories are presented in the providers' own words, with minor editing for grammar, clarity, and brevity. Names have been omitted to protect privacy.

"I've had several cases over the years in which the anti-abortion patient had rationalized in one way or another that her case was the only exception, but the one that really made an impression was the college senior who was the president of her campus Right-to-Life organization, meaning that she had worked very hard in that organization for several years. As I was completing her procedure, I asked what she planned to do about her high office in the RTL organization. Her response was a wide-eyed, 'You're not going to tell them, are you!?' When assured that I was not, she breathed a sigh of relief, explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn't want this to interfere with it." (Physician, Texas)

"Recently, we had a patient who had given a history of being a 'pro-life' activist, but who had decided to have an abortion. She was pleasant to me and our initial discussion was mutually respectful. Later, she told someone on my staff that she thought abortion is murder, that she is a murderer, and that she is murdering her baby. So before doing her procedure, I asked her if she thought abortion is murder -- the answer was yes. I asked her if she thought I am a murderer, and if she thought I would be murdering her baby, and she said yes. But murder is a crime, and murderers are executed. Is this a crime? Well, it should be, she said. At that point, she became angry and hostile, and the summary of the conversation was that she regarded me as an abortion-dispensing machine, and how dare I ask her what she thinks. After explaining to her that I do not perform abortions for people who think I am a murderer or people who are angry at me, I declined to provide her with medical care. I do not know whether she found someone else to do her abortion." (Physician, Colorado)

"We have anti-choice women in for abortions all the time. Many of them are just naive and ignorant until they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Many of them are not malicious. They just haven't given it the proper amount of thought until it completely affects them. They can be judgmental about their friends, family, and other women. Then suddenly they become pregnant. Suddenly they see the truth. That it should only be their own choice. Unfortunately, many also think that somehow they are different than everyone else and they deserve to have an abortion, while no one else does." (Physician, Washington State)

(More testimonials here)

Although few studies have been made of this phenomenon, a study done in 1981 (1) found that 24% of women who had abortions considered the procedure morally wrong, and 7% of women who'd had abortions disagreed with the statement, "Any woman who wants an abortion should be permitted to obtain it legally." A 1994/95 survey (2,3) of nearly 10,000 abortion patients showed 18% of women having abortions are born-again or Evangelical Christians. Many of these women are likely anti-choice. The survey also showed that Catholic women have an abortion rate 29% higher than Protestant women.

From a clinic director in a mid-western state: "One of the most remarkable cases was a woman who came [from another part of the state] and said she was the Right-to-Life president in her county. 'But,' she said, she 'had become pregnant and had to have an abortion.'"

The medical director of an Indianapolis clinic recalled one prospective patient who phoned to ask whether the clinic had a back door. He said no. How, she asked, could she get inside without being seen by fellow picketers outside? Pointing out that two orthopedists practiced with him, the doctor told the woman "she could limp and say she was coming to see the orthopods."

Many anti-choice women are convinced that their need for abortion is unique -- not like those "other" women -- even though they have abortions for the same sorts of reasons. Anti-choice women often expect special treatment from clinic staff. Some demand an abortion immediately, wanting to skip important preliminaries such as taking a history or waiting for blood test results. Frequently, anti-abortion women will refuse counseling (such women are generally turned away or referred to an outside counselor because counseling at clinics is mandatory). Some women insist on sneaking in the back door and hiding in a room away from other patients. Others refuse to sit in the waiting room with women they call "sluts" and "trash." Or if they do, they get angry when other patients in the waiting room talk or laugh, because it proves to them that women get abortions casually, for "convenience"...

(There is a section here about denying the procedure to anti-abortionist, you can read it at the original source)

At times, clinic staff understandably become frustrated and angry when they have to deal with abusive, hostile, or hypocritical patients. And it is rare for anti-choice women to express appreciation for the service they've received. But most clinics perform abortions on anti-abortion women because they feel it's their obligation to help all women. They provide more thorough and specialized counseling to these women to ensure they take ownership of their decision, as far as possible. Here's a couple of examples of counseling techniques:

"When a patient comes in with my 'favorite' sentiment: 'The only moral abortion is my abortion,' I try to expand her understanding that a few more of us have had and deserve a 'moral' abortion. When a woman expands her need for care beyond herself, you no longer have an 'anti'." (Clinic Administrator, Louisiana)

"Sometimes I say to patients who have that 'I have no choice, I know I'll regret it, just do me' attitude: 'You may not care, but we do. We only do abortions on women who want our services. We will not knowingly contribute to any possible trauma of any woman.' They seem surprised that we care how we do our work, but they also accept it." (Counselor, New York)

These are just excerpts from a much longer article. Please read it in it's entirety here. Some of the comments on Kos have been pretty right on. I especially liked these:

"Like so many things the neocons and theocons think they are Special, and that the rules they'd like to apply to the rest of society don't apply to them.

your abortion is wrong. Mine/my daughter's has a good reason...

your extramarital affair is wrong. I had a good reason for mine...

your lying to the public is wrong. My situation is complex and not what the liberal media makes it sound like...

your homosexuality is wrong. Me, I'm not gay- I just like getting blown by strangers in dark rooms or no-name hotels. I love my wife..."

When someone asked how these women could go back to picketing someone replied:

Here's how it works: First, they lay on the guilt. Then, they show you how to transfer the guilt:

"Yes, you killed your baby, but weren't you pressured to do so? They didn't really tell you about all your options, did they? And they never told you about the real consequences, did they? You're not really a killer, you're really a victim. Good, now hold this sign and shout at those women over there."

Anyways - I thought this was interesting enough to pass on.

Tags:, ,

I don't support abortion for me personally, yet I don't feel it is my right to tell another woman what they should or should not do.

What troubles me about this issue is the continual assumption that only Republicans or "neocons" are the ones who are pro-life. South Dakota is a prime example of Pro-Life Democrats as well who worked to make abortion in that state illegal. Catholics generally vote Democrat, that's been proven statistically with the exception of very recent elections. I know Republicans who are pro-choice and Democrats who are pro-life. Despite the attempts to make being pro or against abortion being a particular party's mandate? It is just one issue and not one that everyone agrees on no matter their party affiliation.

I'd also have to say on a personal note most people don't understand something until they face it personally. It's really easy to criticize someone for doing something until you are in that position. That's not something that only applies to this moral question. I also firmly believe that if all of the money, time and energy that people spend on trying to make abortion illegal or keeping it legal were spent on women's programs especially those that provided low or no cost birth control abortion would probably actually become rare. Abortion has become a political fundraiser that both sides use rather than either side really trying to help women.

Thank you for the thoughful comment.
I appreciate your input and you are right - both sides use it as a money maker when they could/should be doing more for women.

I keep hoping that as more women get into politics maybe they can change the focus of this to work together to create less of a need for abortion. That's really the only way it's going to end. Making it illegal isn't the solution.


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