January 24, 2012 (LiveAction.org) – In 1994 a law was enacted in Pennsylvania that required a pregnant mother scheduled for an abortion be offered information on the gestation and development of the growing baby she planned to abort, hear a description of the abortion and risks from a doctor, have an opportunity to have her questions answered, and wait 24 hours before having the abortion (and for minors to have the consent of one parent—but that’s a nugget for another time).
Predictably, the management of the abortion clinic where I worked was up in arms! Oppression! Mistrusting women! Logistical nightmare! … Increased price…
We couldn’t possibly pay doctors to talk to the pregnant mothers!! We already gave each woman counseling before her abortion. Most pregnant mothers spent a whole 10 to 12 minutes with an unlicensed non-therapist about an hour before undergoing irreversible invasive surgery that killed her growing baby and removed it from her womb. And now the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was going to insinuate itself into the “doctor”-patient relationship by demanding a pregnant mother hear a physician explain the abortion procedure and risks (gasp!), that she be given a chance to learn more about the level of development of her baby before killing it (the horror!), an opportunity to have her questions answered (double-gasp!), that she be told of alternatives to abortion and agencies that offer financial and practical assistance to pregnant mothers (the nerve!) and that she wait twenty-four hours (outrageous!) before aborting her babe! Obviously, for the abortion industry, this was simply unacceptable.
So we made a movie.
The World Wide Web was in its infancy then, so a webcast or YouTube link wasn’t an option like it is today, but I guess you could say we were pioneers in the field of “tele-medicine” by making a video one of the doctors (the only female abortionist on staff) explaining the abortion procedure and risks to a camera. This cassette was then placed into a top-loading VCR (remember those?) and pregnant women were ushered into a counseling room a handful at a time to watch a doctor provide a recorded explanation of the abortion and its inherent risks. A college student on the clinic staff usually sat in on the group “compliance session” and made herself and her doubtless vast expanse of knowledge and experience available for questions.
When the pregnant mothers came back to the clinic the next day to abort their children the clinic counselor uttered a scripted line, which I’m paraphrasing, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires that descriptions of fetal development be made available to you and that we inform you that there are agencies available to assist you should you choose to carry your pregnancy to term and that the father of your child is legally obligated to pay child support. Would you like to view any of these materials at this time?”
As for providing the opportunity to have her questions answered by a doctor, well the VHS tape certainly couldn’t do that, so after getting her blood drawn, speaking with a “counselor”, paying for her abortion, getting her blood pressure and temperature taken, disrobing and putting on a hospital gown, she was offered a chance to ask the doctor her questions from her perch atop the examination table during the final moments of her baby’s life. Unsurprisingly, few voiced any questions or concerns by this point in the process.
We were following the law—right? Sure we were. It makes me wonder how clinic managers are going to creatively circumnavigate the new ultrasound laws popping up across the country. An ultrasound before an abortion is already standard practice, but does the mother see it? It makes me curious about the precise wording of the laws—specifically; do they mandate the pregnant mother be offered to view an ultrasound picture before her abortion or her ultrasound picture?
Ride along with my train of thought here. Do the laws even require the ultrasound image shown be that of a human preborn child? I have wild thoughts of clinics offering to show a woman an ultrasound picture of gallstones from a decade-old medical textbook if the wording of the law is imprecise in any way because clinics will take any and all opportunities to prevent fully-informed “choice” under the guise of keeping the process streamlined, not “upsetting” the pregnant mother, and keeping abortion “accessible” by keeping the price down for the customer.
The bottom line was—and is—the bottom line: it’s too expensive to follow the law as intended.
The fewer steps involved, the faster the process, the cheaper it could be kept for the customer, the more abortions could be done each day. The doctors were (are?) paid by the abortion—not by the hour—so it clearly was not worth the time and money to pay the doctors to actually talk with the pregnant mothers before aborting their children.
Contrast this with the free care offered by thousands of pro-life pregnancy care centers across the country. These centers routinely offer their services—pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, childbirth and parenting classes, babysitting co-ops—at no charge and without a dime of taxpayer dollars.
The cost of compassion? Priceless.
Reprinted with permission from the Live Action blog.