The Elliot Institute News
From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research
Vol. 7, No. 1 -- Jan. 14, 2008
UnChoice Campaign: www.theunchoice.com
IN THIS ISSUE:
Disclosure and Coercion
Concealing Relevant Information is "An Act of Coercion"
In this excerpt from her book Giving Sorrow Words, journalist and women's rights advocate Melinda Tankard Reist argues that failing to inform women about the risks and trauma of abortion is a form of coercion:
Concealing information relevant to a woman's decision-making and future health should be recognized as an act of coercion. Deceptive information presented as fact — for example, that post-abortion trauma is a "myth" — also acts coercively on a client.
If a woman has an abortion without having been apprised of the facts about potential harm and suffering, she has not chosen freely: the decision-making process has been rendered defective. The normal requirements for informed consent prior to undergoing a medical procedure should not be suspended when that procedure is a termination of pregnancy.
Informed consent means that, prior to the decision to have an abortion, the patient must be fully advised of all physical and psychological risks associated with abortion, even if the doctor considers those risks minimal.
In 1992, the High Court of Australia in Rogers v. Whitaker stated expressly that every patient must be provided with complete information, including the most remote risk, flowing from or which may flow from the proposed medical procedure. In that case, a specialist was held to be negligent for not advising a woman of a one in 14,000 risk of incurring blindness from an eye operation. She was the one in 14,000.
The ruling effectively means that a decision to undergo a medical procedure is void unless it is made on the basis of relevant information. But in the field of abortion provision, there seems to be an attitude that women need to be "protected" from such information, that they might be confused by material other than that which presents abortion as quick, easy and virtually risk-free.
The U.K. Commission of Inquiry Into The Physical and Psycho-Social Effects of Abortion on Women heard from a Dr. Alan Rogers, Consultant Gynecologist at Marie Stopes Park View Clinic, who said that he was confident he could "tell" when a woman was ready for an abortion. The Commission's report stated: "We were unable to establish how much information is actually given to women at Dr. Rogers' clinic prior to abortion."
A doctor who said he could just "tell" when a woman was "ready" for any other medical procedure, without having first provided her with information about that procedure and its possible risks, would be reminded that the days of "doctor-knows-best" are over.
Other medical practitioners, in Australia and overseas, have noted with concern the dearth of information about risks provided to women considering abortion. Some have called for mandatory reporting of abortion complications.
It is not enough to tell a woman she might "feel sad for a few days" and that such feelings are "hormonal and will pass," which was the reductionist message on abortion after-effects given to most of this book's contributors. She needs to know she might experience what the women in this book experienced—a long-lasting mental and emotional backlash, and, in some cases, significant physical ramifications—even if the clinic staff don't think these possibilities worth mentioning.
Women who leave their beds at night to breastfeed a "crying" (aborted) baby, or who buy teddy bears they pretend are their babies, or who cut themselves with razors, or whose bodies cannot sustain future pregnancies, are suffering what may be described as a form of socially and medically sanctioned repression. The repression began in the clinic or hospital when they were denied information about possible outcomes of abortion, and continued when they were denied a forum through which to address the toll abortion has taken on their lives.
The filtering of information to suit a particular agenda must stop. As one woman wrote to the clinic where her abortion was carried out: "Your biased, one-eyed approach did not serve me well. And now I must live with it, not you."
An informed woman should not be seen as a threat. Women should be made aware of their legal rights to pursue damages for physical/psychological harm suffered of which they were not forewarned.
In an article arguing the need for informed choice, including information about "fetuses, complications, even long-term grief," pro-choice Canadian writer Lindalee Tracey, who has had an abortion, states: "We shouldn't flinch from what it is we don't want to know. No matter how politically inconvenient."
Excerpted from the book Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief After Abortion, by Melinda Tankard Reist. This book is available from the Elliot Institute under our Acorn Books publishing imprint. For more information, visit http://www.theunchoice.com or call 1-888-412-2676.
Ten Things to Know About Abortion and Coercion
The rhetoric of choice hides the reality of coercion.
Abortion is often someone else’s “choice.” 64% of American women who have had abortions felt pressured by others.
Pressure is significant. Her “choices” may involve loss of home, family or essential support, or abuse that can escalate to violence. Homicide is the leading killer of pregnant women.
Coercion can take many forms, including undisclosed, misleading or false information about fetal development and alternatives.
Even though the majority felt rushed and uncertain, 67% received no counseling; 79% were not told about alternatives.
Abortion is often a woman’s last choice, but her abuser’s first choice. Teens face an especially high risk for coercion.
Many Americans who pushed family or friends to abort were also deceived – by experts, authorities or even pastors – about fetal development, alternatives and risks.
The overall death rate of women rises 3.5 times after an abortion. Suicide rates are 6-7 times higher after an abortion.
65% report symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder they attribute to their abortions.
“We were maiming at least one woman a month.” – Carol Everett, former abortion clinic operator
See citations here.
Book, Web Site Focus on Steps for Healing After Abortion
Dispells Myth of Abortion as a "Selfish" Choice"
A website dedicated to post-abortion healing is focusing on the book "The Four Steps to Healing" by Martha Shuping, M.D. and Deborah McDaniel, MA, LPC.
If you or someone you care about has experienced the pain of unresolved grief after abortion, you know how hard it can be to find help. Magazines and talk shows offer advice on nearly every topic, yet it’s rare to see a headline for post-abortion recovery.
"The Four Steps to Healing" sheds new light on an issue that has touched the lives of many but is talked about by few. The myth of abortion as a “selfish” choice is dispelled by stories of women who underwent abortions out of concern for others rather than themselves, often as a result of coercion.
In recognition of those who long to reconnect and go further in their faith, "The Four Steps to Healing" is available in both Catholic and non-denominational versions. Filled with practical suggestions, prayers and stories of hope, it is a resource for those who want to be healed and for those who want to help.
The website is primarily focused on healing, especially for those who have not yet experienced any healing and may be looking for encouragement to take the first step. Visitors can read an excerpt from "The Four Steps to Healing" and order a copy of the book. To link to the site and learn more about the book, visit here: http://postabortionhealing.net/index.html.
12 Ways to Help Spread the Unchoice Message
#12: Link to the UnChoice Site ... Refer Others, Too!
If Americans knew the truth about unwanted, misinformed or forced abortions ... they would not push women to abort or deny them the opportunity to heal. Millions still suffer in the wake of a procedure that was never safe ... never just ... and never about free or fully informed choices.
Americans have been kept in the dark and many unwittingly push their daughters, wives, sisters or friends into unwanted and dangerous abortions. Meanwhile, countless women who have lived the abortion nightmare are resorting to despair or even suicide. It is urgent that we educate others about abortion's injustice and danger to everyone involved. With your help, we can stop others from pushing abortion in lieu of authentic choices and offer renewed hope and healing to women, men and families hurt by abortion.
Below is just one way you can help this important effort. To see the complete list of 12 Ways to Help, click here.
12. Link to the UnChoice Site ... Refer Others, Too!
We encourage any individual or group with a web site to link to http://www.theunchoice.com. Help others access our UnChoice education/outreach campaign and background information --including our ads and fact sheets, latest news and information, compelling testimonies, and more. Also, please refer your friends, church and civic leaders and others.
If your site already contains a link to our main Elliot Institute site at www.afterabortion.org, please include the www.theunchoice.com link as well, to help direct users to new materials and information.
Find out more about our books and resources at www.theunchoice.com/resources.htm. To place an order, call 1-888-412-2676.
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