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July 19, 2008


It is unclear after reading the article a couple of times what "Patient A's" initial consultation was for. Was it to start the abortion process or was it just a check to see if she were pregnant? The clinic according to the article performs sterilization, abortion and vascectomy. It could therefore at least be assumed that Patient-A was interested in abortion. The article seemed to sidestep the moral issues of abortion itself and focused on the mistake of the nurse. Patient A was apparently distraught, but was it because of the mistake the clinic made, or because of the certain harm the Mifepristone has caused her unborn child? It is tragic no matter what the reason.

The title of this post seems inapt given the nature of the story and the bulk of the commentary on it.

The title of this post suggests that we are going to read about a case (or multiple cases) of women receiving abortions against their will and (maybe) how pro-lifers can join with pro-choicers to fight such cases.

But the story is about a woman in the UK who, due to a mix-up, took an abortion pill that, medically speaking, she shouldn't have taken given the stage of her pregnancy and the fact that she hadn't taken another pill in preparation.

It sounds like the woman wanted an abortion, was never informed of which methods of abortion she was medically eligible for, and so she just took the pill that the nurse mistakenly gave her, which resulted in medical problems and the death of the fetus.

Saying that both pro-choicers and pro-lifers can agree that this situation was a bad thing is like saying that they can both agree that it's bad if a doctor mixes up one person's medical history with someone else's and subsequently prescribes a medicine to which the patient has a known allergy, resulting in serious medical problems for the patient.

It's true that we can agree on the issue, but it's not very interesting that we can agree on it, nor does the agreement help us accomplish anything in either the moral debate about abortion or the fight to protect the unborn.

I've seen this sort of "not very interesting" common ground help abortion conversations many times.

This isn't just common ground on basketball teams, restaurants, TV shows, or other preferences that have nothing to do with abortion (although these areas of common ground are very helpful too, for building relationship and rapport where someone would actually possibly listen to me or rethink their views) -- it's right on the topic.

So if I'm discussing abortion with someone and it seems we totally disagree, bringing in an item like this early in the discussion can help both parties see early on that we actually aren't so different after all.

In this case, both of us agree that women should make a fully-informed abortion decision. Neither of us is afraid of the woman being given more accurate information. And we are appalled by situations (like the one in the post) where it seems like that hasn't happened (whether because of poor policies, patronizing views of women, or accident).

Sure, it seems not very interesting, but the proof is in the pudding. Try bringing up the story with a friend and see if you can agree and then see how the conversation goes after that.

Let us know how it goes!

I think a better conversation starter on this issue is to ask how a person feels about Crisis Pregnancy Centers that actually show you sonograms of the child inside. A few years ago I think it was ABC did a news report about these places and they sounded really angry that a group would stoop to showing a woman pictures of what it was that was actually inside her!
What good is a woman's choice if she does not have the information she needs to make a good choice?
In my experience the more information you have the better the choice, and a video tape of your child sucking his or her thumb is worth a ten thousand words of information!

I agree that focusing on ultrasound or other visual images is a good area of common ground that's very helpful to start conversations or keep them productive.

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