Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dont Image that Baby! (Unless you Plan On Killing Her) [Serge]

I have a confession. I really try to treat our opponents arguments with respect and to take them seriously. I think that is very important, but in this case I don't think I'll be able to. Sometimes arguments are so bad and poorly thought out that I question whether the author of them actually believes them to be true. In this case, I can only assume that these authors merely needed to make some form of argument about the presence of ultrasounds in pregnancy resource centers, and thus came up with any argument they could think of, without thinking it through or believing it at all. I can come up with no better explanation for this horrendous thinking. You may read the entire article if you wish to, but I can obliterate their points merely from the summary.

Ultrasound - an important medical diagnostic technology - is increasingly being used as a propaganda tool in the abortion wars. Crisis pregnancy centers are investing heavily in this serious medical technology in order to influence women who are considering an abortion.

Let's see if we can understand this. An accurate, true, high definition image of a mother's fetus is a "propaganda tool" that influences unsuspecting women into making a choice for life. I guess a woman who is considering an abortion - an important decision regardless of your stance on the issue, can't be trusted with the truth about the state of their offspring. Isn't the concept of INFORMED consent based on the woman having the most accurate information possible prior to her making the decision? Suppose it is better if we kept them in the dark so that their "choice" can be more, well, consistent with the pro-abortion choice crowd. I'm sure they can't handle the truth.

Funny thing is that I must also be guilty of propaganda. Our office has invested tens of thousands of dollars in order to have the most accurate images of the hard tissues of the head and neck. I also show these images to every patient that I perform surgery on. I must be guilty of using my influence as a physician to propagandize my patients to give them the same view of wisdom teeth that I have. Maybe I should show them no images at all - or maybe blurry ones as to allow them to make a propaganda free decision? This is utterly ridiculous.

But actually not as bad as the next two.

However, there is research indicating that ultrasounds can cause harm, both because of the nature of the ultrasound imaging technology and the faulty operation of equipment or interpretation of results.

There are two equally bad points here. The first is that ultrasounds can possibly cause harm to a fetus, and thus should not be used. In truth, there is no evidence that an ultrasound causes harm to a fetus or a mother. However, regardless of that lies the obvious - the fact that ultrasound is used to stage a pregnancy prior to an abortion. In other words, the author argues that it is OK to ultrasound a fetus in order to assist in its dismemberment, but not OK if you wish to have the fetus live. "We are very concerned about all of the children that could be harmed by this technology - except those that we kill with the aid of this technology". Amazing.

The second argument is that by taking ultrasounds the equipment could malfunction or be misread thus resulting in a missed diagnosis. As someone who looks at images all day, this is true. It is possible to miss something on an ultrasound or misread the results. However, their solution to this problem is a very unique one. In order to avoid a possible mis diagnosis from an ultrasound image - one should not be taken! We can just leave the woman in the dark - then no misdiagnosis is possible! Brilliant!

I can try to apply this thinking to my practice. Let's see how it works:

Patient: I have a painless ulcer in my mouth

Serge: There is a possibility it could be cancer. Normally I would recommend a biopsy, but every biopsy carries a risk of missing the diagnosis, so I don't want to do that. We wouldn't want to misdiagnose you.

Patient: Can you at least take an x-ray?

Serge: Although I usually take an image to rule out bony invasion, there is a chance I may miss something. If I don't take an x-ray there is no chance I'll misread it.

Patient: I have these nodules in my neck, do you think it could be related?

Serge: It could mean lymph node involvement, but I'm not going to examine you there in case I miss one. You just can't be too sure.

Patient: Am I in Canada?

Sorry for the cheap shot at the Canadian health care system, but I hope you get my point. Fear of mis diagnosis is not reason to avoid imaging.

I can't take these arguments seriously, and yet they are featured on the RH reality blog. They can't be serious.

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