Medical Ethics and the Stewardship of Life
What are some other areas of concern in pregnancy ethics?
I have a great concern about the future, with the use of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances that initiate the whole physiologic process of labor. They are used now and are available to hospitals and abortion clinics, marketed only by Upjohn. In the green sheet published for pharmacologists, prostin-E is listed ask an abortion-inducer. If we now have prostaglandins available for use by physicians to initiate labor, how long will it be before another variety of prostaglandin is marketed as a menses-inducer? It would be possible, for example, to purchase vaginal tampons for a woman to use once a month on the date that she expected to have her period. She would never know whether she was having a normal period or whether she was having a prostaglandin abortion. It could eliminate the whole problem of abortion as we discuss it now, because it would never be anything but a very private affair between a woman and her vaginal tampon.
In your book you cited statistics from other countries that show that rather than reducing the number of abortions, the availability of abortion increases it.
If you don't have a last-ditch therapy such as abortion, then people pay a little bit more attention to their techniques of contraception. In places like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Japan people have gotten less and less careful about true contraception because they know that if they do get pregnant they always have a way out in abortion.
How dangerous is abortion? A dilatation and curettage, which is sometimes used for abortion, is not dangerous.
A D&C is one type of abortion, and the one that's used in the first trimester of pregnancy. Theoretically, if you want to be very erudite, when you are using that technique to extract a fetus, you call it a D&E, because it's a dilatation and evacuation. The pregnant uterus presents more of a hazard than a nonpregnant uterus, if you are going to scrape its wall. The D&C so called has also been substituted by the suction machine. It sucks out the embryo by negative pressure rather than bringing it out with a little hoe. Statistics in this country about this form of abortion are hard to come by. Free-standing abortion clinics are not under the same kind of control and regulation as is a hospital. Our best comparative statistics come from another Anglo-Saxon country, namely England, where under their national medical service they have kept careful records. After a woman has had an abortion there is an increase in the incidence of sterility, of premature deliveries, of ectopic pregnancies, and of the inability to carry a pregnancy to term because of an incompetent cervix. All of these things increase after a woman has had an abortion. Dr. Matthew Bulfin in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, finds that very few women who have abortions have been counseled on what some of the subsequent dangers are.
What should you tell a woman who is contemplating abortion?
She should be shown photographs of exactly what she is aborting. She also needs some spiritual guidance. Many women early on in pregnancy go through a time of depression when they do not want the child. If they have only one kind of counseling available—to abort—women may live to regret it.