Monday, January 29, 2007

Post Elective Cosmetic Surgery Syndrome [Serge]

Yes, I made that term up, but I wish to make a point regarding the conversation about women centered pro-life advocacy that Scott and Jay covered here and here.

Imagine that we had evidence that a large number of women (>50%) who had undergone cosmetic surgery later regretted that choice. Some of them were harmed by the procedure, some had regrets about how it turned out, and some had no problems but simply missed the way they used to look. Some who were concerned about the effect of cosmetic surgery began to call this situation the post elective cosmetic surgery syndrome (PECSS).

Here's the question. The presence of PECSS would certainly call for more stringent informed consent practices as well as increase patient education about the risks of cosmetic surgery. This information would be helpful for anyone considering cosmetic surgery. But would anyone advocate that we should make cosmetic surgery illegal because a significant number of patients had regrets after surgery? Do you think this would be an effective and convincing strategy to convince the public of an outright ban on all cosmetic procedures? No way. In fact, the proponents of cosmetic surgery would simply point to all of the patients that were greatly satisfied with the results.

If that is the case, why do we believe that focusing on the effects of abortion on the mother will change hearts and minds?

What is the difference between the cosmetic surgery situation and abortion that makes the difference? The humanity of the unborn, which is exactly my point. If we discount speaking about the humanity of the unborn, our argument loses most of its persuasive power.

I'm not saying there is no place for discussing the negative impact that an abortion will have on the mother. However, we cannot allow that thought to replace the tradition pro-life argument.


  1. I think that there are two main reasons to concern ourselves with the effect of abortion on women:

    * Caring about women is, in itself, the right thing to do. My concern for women and for their children stems from the same place.

    * I think that some people don't allow themselves to consider the unborn human beings precisely because they believe that abortion is something that is sometimes necessary and even good for women. If we can refute that, we make it psychologically safe for these people to consider the arguments for fetal personhood.

  2. Just to clarify, I absolutely believe that we need to be concerned with the woman's needs. I simply do not want that concern to replace the traditional pro-life argument.

    I understand, and agree. I think the two complement each other.


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