Margaret Somerville, director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, recently published an article in Ottawa Citizen titled "The profound complexities of informed consent to abortion.”
This article is very well-written and represents a commonly overlooked problem in society: women who are pressured into having an abortion, and then manipulated into believing that their life will return to normal after the abortion.
First off, what is informed consent? Informed Consent is the ethical and legal obligation to inform a patient of all the benefits and risks involved in a medical procedure so that the patient can make the best decision regarding any medical intervention. As Margaret Somerville puts it, Informed Consent “requires that the harms, risks and benefits of the procedure, and its alternatives, including doing nothing, are disclosed.”
In her article, Margaret Somerville presents the case of Anna (not her real name), a 32-year-old woman who was made victim of abortion in Quebec. Before her abortion, Anna asked to see the ultrasound of her child but her request was refused. This contrasts with the regulations in several states in the U.S. which mandate that a woman see an ultrasound image of her child before her abortion or at least be offered the possibility to view it.
Anna was devastated after her abortion. She is currently seeking psychological help and she shared her story with Margaret Somerville to spread the word on the dangers of abortion. This is not a rare case- unfortunately, many women suffer the same distress but their stories are kept behind a curtain so as to not disturb the pro-abortion status quo.
Margaret Somerville writes:
Informed consent is not present if the information is inadequate - that's medical negligence (malpractice). And even non-material information must be disclosed if it is raised by a person's questions, which must be answered honestly and fully. Anna's request to see the ultrasound image is relevant in this latter respect. Consent is never present where intentionally false information is given, especially when it involves consequences and risks - indeed, this can give rise to the legal wrongs of battery and assault.
Should Québec have stricter laws on informed consent for abortion procedures? Considering that abortion is an irreversible decision, shouldn’t women be better assisted and informed about the risks involved in aborting their child? Let us reflect upon this last comment which Anna told Margaret Somerville, “When a woman is pregnant, from my experience, she is much more vulnerable, and thus can be 'pushed around' more easily. This should be taken into account when a clinic is looking to have consent from a pregnant woman." – does this resonate with your experience? Please let us know your thoughts and comments.