What one doctor wishes she learned about ‘choice’ in medical school
HUNTSVILLE, Ontario - An Ontario family physician with 20 years experience wishes she had learned more about what she calls the “magnificence” of life in the womb before she made up her mind about abortion as a young medical student many years ago.
Since that time, Dr. Laura Lewis of Huntsville, Ontario, has come a full 180 degrees, opening a pregnancy support center in her community with a small but passionate group of women.
“I have been a family physician for 20 years, and yet, despite learning about the reality of fetal development and life in the womb, I felt that abortion was a reasonable option for women,” she told LifeSiteNews, adding that when the now deceased Dr. Henry Morgentaler visited her school in the 1980s, she found herself agreeing with his “safe abortion” argument.
But it slowly began to dawn on Dr. Lewis — by God’s grace, she says — that abortions were not a reasonable or safe option for either the mother or, of course, the baby. It was especially babies targeted for abortion because of a chromosomal abnormality that brought this to her attention.
“Gradually God began to reveal to me His heart for life. First He highlighted people with Down's syndrome in our community,” she said.
“I noted how joyful they were and how they impacted many around them in a meaningful way, often forcing us to stop in our busyness and celebrate the simple moments. I wondered when we, as a medical profession, felt that we had the right to decide who should live or die. I began to question prenatal screening for the purpose of eliminating a unique people group. How did we get to such a place — from protectors of life to destroyers of life?”
As a family physician throughout the years, Dr. Lewis saw firsthand what she calls the “confusion” many women experienced as a result of an unexpected pregnancy. She also heard many women speak about the regret they experienced over an abortion.
“I saw the great sorrow that some had carried for thirty years, I heard stories through tears of loss. I realized that silence, secrecy and shame have kept much of this tragedy hidden,” she said.
Things I wish I had learned about ‘choice’ in medical school
Dr. Lewis recently wrote on her blog about how her medical schooling failed to prepare her for dealing with the devastating fallout from the reality women today call “choice.”
“I wish I had learned that science can only describe the magnificence of life, not explain it. Despite learning about oocytes, spermatozoa, cell division and embryology, I failed to appreciate the complex blueprint of life, established in the early moments of conception – a new life yet to unfold in all of its wonder,” she wrote.
“It is my hope ... that the medical profession will become part of a new system of response to those facing crisis pregnancies … returning to the Hippocratic roots of our profession, a place where all life is valued and protected.”
“I wish I had learned that in the name of ‘choice’ many women have no choice regarding their unplanned pregnancy,” she continued. “I wish I had learned that many men and women live with great regret about their children lost to abortion.”
Dr. Lewis wrote that while patients often come into a doctor’s office for “guidance, education and help” during the “chaos of an unplanned pregnancy,” the response of the medical profession has been “weak and often biased.”
“I use the term ‘weak’ to refer to the weakness I see in the support and backing given to abortion alternatives. I use the term ‘biased’ to refer to the overarching attitude that abortion provision, accessibility and availability are given a greater platform than supportive alternatives such as adoption and pregnancy care support,” she wrote.
It was in 2011 that Dr. Lewis helped establish Christine’s Place in Huntsville where women faced with a crisis pregnancy can find help and support.
“I care that many women have felt let down by the care provided to them by health care professionals, medical doctors in particular. I care that these women have felt alone at a time when they needed guidance and support. I care that many of these women suffer remorse and regret that often remains unspoken. I care that many have felt they had no other option but to abort their pregnancy,” she told LifeSiteNews.
‘Knowledge and real options empower women’
Dr. Lewis would like to see change in the way Canada’s medical community handles unplanned pregnancies.
“I see the lack of cohesiveness in our response as a medical community,” she said. “Women are often left on their own to research the options regarding adoption or pregnancy support. We can talk about the option to parent or pursue adoption but words can seem empty when you feel frightened, trapped or pressured. To be a true option, a choice has to feel real, tangible and accessible.”
What would Dr. Lewis like to see improved? She says the medical community needs to ensure that women dealing with a crisis pregnancy understand fetal development, it needs to provide them with accurate information on abortion procedures, including the emotional and physical consequences, and it needs to provide them with access to pregnancy centers and adoption agencies.
“Those who support abortion should not fear this integration. Knowledge and real options empower women,” she said.
Last year Dr. Lewis walked with 24 other women from Montreal to Canada’s Supreme Court in Ottawa to bring awareness to what abortion does to women.
“I joined the Back to Life team to help establish a voice for women who have experienced physical, emotional and spiritual trauma from their abortion(s),” she said.
“Many women are coerced, many simply didn't know what they were doing, and many had no one to encourage them to choose a different option.”
“My hope is that women will share their stories with their family physician. I believe many physicians have no idea how devastated some women are, and would be very open to the discussion,” she said.
Dr. Lewis believes that women will come to see abortion as an "unreasonable and undesirable" option through education and by doctors providing them with “real options.” She would like to see the medical community rally around women facing a crisis pregnancy.
“It is my hope, however, that the medical profession will become part of a new system of response to those facing crisis pregnancies … returning to the Hippocratic roots of our profession, a place where all life is valued and protected,” she wrote on her blog.