Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ultrasounds and Informed Consent [Serge]

JivinJ posted this in regards to the pro-abortion response to William Saleten's article. Ex-Edwards campaigner Amanda Marcotte has this to say about the concept of informing a woman about what she is about to undergo:

If you don’t know that an abortion removes a fetus from your body, why on earth would you be getting one? As a general rule, when you request that a doctor relieve you of an unwanted intrusion, you have a fairly good idea of what that intrusion is. Is there a danger of people getting cavities drilled who don’t know what a cavity is and what it does to your teeth? I think that most of us are even more familiar with the process of pregnancy, what it does, and what the results are than we are of cavities, yet no one is suggesting that we need to have dentists show pictures of the cavity to us and ask us if we really understand what’s happening when it gets drilled.

But men get cavities, so that sort of thing would be insulting to their intelligence and sense of self-determination.
Well, I don't fix cavities, but I very frequently perform third molar surgery, a procedure which has a good number of similarities to the abortion procedure (except for that intentional killing of a human being thing.) I perform surgery on both men and women, so her charge of sexism in regards to what is shown to a patient does not apply.

It seems reasonable to believe that the decision to have an abortion is more serious than the decision to have your wisdom teeth out. Marcotte assumes that we simply assume that patients know what a dental procedure is and the only reason women are being informed of their abortion is that we believe they are unintelligent. Well, you can be the judge.

Every single patient who is referred to our office is first scheduled for a consultation appointment. During this appointment, they fill out their paperwork, have a digital x-ray taken, and then view a 15 minute flash presentation about their upcoming surgery. This presentation is (a sample of which is here) goes through in detail regarding the surgical procedure, reasons for the procedure, potential risks both of having the surgery and not having the surgery done, as well as general descriptions with diagrams of the surgery itself. After viewing this, I examine the patient, and their x-ray is shown to them in detail. I discuss their particular anatomy and some of the potential risks in undergoing wisdom teeth surgery. We then talk about anesthesia and then they make their appointment for surgery (which is always on another day for elective cases.)

I have never met anyone who thought the process was "insulting to their intelligence" (regardless of their sex) . In fact, most patients are very happy to have that information. Many replay the presentation at home. Very rarely, I will have a parent ask that their child not view the video, because they do not wish to have their child "scared" about what I am going to do. My response is that if someone is old enough to have the procedure done, they are old enough to know what is going to happen to them.

The question is this: if abortion is a far more serious decision than having wisdom teeth out, should we not expect abortion doctors and those involved in this procedure to be even more diligent in giving their patients information regarding their upcoming procedure? If not, why not? Requiring doctors to offer viewing an ultrasound to a patient is a helpful first step.


  1. Well said, Serge. Informed consent is a critical part of medical care everywhere except in an abortion clinic.

  2. Quite right, Serge. The truth is, abortionists really conveyor-belt process their patients in a way that would be considered irresponsible medicine anywhere else. I've heard of their _turning away_ the ultrasound monitor or freezing it so that the mother can't see the baby moving.

    Mind you, some women do abort with full knowledge, sometimes rather defiantly. I'm not one to want to portray all aborting women as victims. There's a whole range.

    (Gee, I'm surprised Marcotte got through that whole paragraph without swearing. Did someone clean up her language for her before posting it?)


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