Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Surprise! No Staplers on THIS Ultrasound

It was rainy today, which made people a bit cranky, I think. I was cranky, anyway. Well, just in the early morning. I'm used to my solitary Tuesday routine: getting up early, eating breakfast in the quiet darkness, enjoying the still-slightly-dark, alone-with-my-thoughts walk to the clinic. My partner (whose exams are now finished) came with me this week, which was great, but it totally shattered my quiet routine and put me in a weird funk for the first little while. I am very sensitive to both noise and change. Just so you know.

Anyway, clinic was fine. There weren't many protesters out - I think the Saint John folks decided not to make the drive in this weather. Father Grim and Mr. Mumbles were out in their matching bright yellow rain suits, which definitely makes it worth getting up in the morning. It's so funny to see Father Grim, with his standard glare, in such a cheery outfit.

People were a bit off kilter inside today; nothing major, just a couple grumpies. It's forgivable, really; I would be pretty grumpy if someone was fixing to put a needle in my cervix. *shudder*

One of the patients changed her mind, which has been known to happen from time to time. I don't think she told anyone but me; she just got up after returning from her ultrasound and told me she'd changed her mind, and left. SL came out a few minutes later to call her in for her payment, and I had to tell her the patient had left. Which isn't a big deal - we couldn't care less, really. You don't want to do it, don't do it. What's funny is that since she changed her mind right after the ultrasound, and the ultrasound showed she was carrying twins, it's not that far out there to assume that's why she changed her mind.

I don't think it's the first time that's ever happened. Logically, it makes no sense to me. No matter what your reasons for choosing to end a pregnancy, whether financial, emotional, whatever, surely they would only be compounded by the idea of TWO potential children? Personally speaking, if I were to become pregnant at this stage of my life, assuming I chose to have an abortion (which isn't necessarily what I would choose), my main reason would probably be a lack of stability - mainly financial, but also just life in general. So if I couldn't afford to have one kid, I sure as hell couldn't afford two.

But of course this stuff isn't really logical, otherwise there would be agreement on the abortion debate and we could all put energy into other stuff. As Dr. George Tiller noted, "Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. For until one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all."

So I've been struggling to understand the decision on an emotional level, to put myself in the shoes of a woman who goes in thinking she will abort, finds out it's twins, and decides to keep them. What difference does it make, I wonder? Is it harder to end two potential lives than one? Does it make them seem more human? Is it that she really isn't 100% certain of her decision, and this is an easy straw to grasp? It's really impossible to say without knowing the woman in question, and even then, who knows. I would love some face time with women who make that decision, just to see what they were thinking and feeling. I hope the woman today is happy with her decision in the end, and that everything works out for her and the twins.

It makes me think about these laws in the States where they make women having abortions look at the ultrasound. As in, mandatory. As if we can't trust women to know what they want. Lots of women aren't sure about the decision when they go in to a clinic, and they ask to see the ultrasound, and they decide not to abort. That's fine - it's a choice. But when a woman comes in who is 100% sure of the decision, and has no interest whatsoever in looking at the ultrasound, why should she have to? Why do legislators feel the need to hold women's hands every step of the way through a very personal and (for many) agonizing decision? Women aren't stupid, we aren't imbeciles. We can make up our minds for ourselves, and (here's a news flash) when women are pregnant, they KNOW what's in there! They don't think it's a fish, or a stapler. We don't need an ultrasound to tell us.

I think people who ask to see the ultrasound should be allowed to, of course. For some women it's the information they need to show themselves that they can't go through with it. For others, it's a piece of the grieving process. But I think the key to all of this (and really to all of health care) is respect. Just be respectful. Don't make people do shit they don't want to do. Trust women.

My posts have been getting a bit convoluted lately, eh? Sorry about that.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the point of forcing women to look at the ultrasound? It seems like a bully-tactic on the part of anti-choice law-makers. A way to make a difficult process that much more real and painful. I totally agree that a woman who wants to see her ultrasound should have every right to. After all, its a reproduction of the contents of her body. But when a woman doesn't want to look at those images,I think that it is cruel to force her to.

This is legislation that is clearly designed to push a particular ideology, and I know that in this country at least, such colourable legislation that serves no valid purpose is unconstitutional. Do you (or anybody) know in what jurisdiction(s) this law is in force or being considered?

-E

Anonymous said...

When I had my abortion, they gave me the option to look at the ultrasound, which I did. I'm not sure why. Maybe to prove to myself that I was 100% okay with the decision? Anyway, it was twins. I was shocked, and later, afterwards, thinking that it was twins made me much sadder. Again--I don't know why. Maybe the idea of the biological imperative that was driving me to get pregnant in the first place--how much my body did in order to get pregnant, and how much I didn't want it.

Ricky Martin said...

Sounds like "anonymous" E is a little nervous about women being fully informed about their procedure. Full disclosure, or informed consent, is what women deserve. To not offer the ultrasound is to keep these women in the dark about their medical "choice."

There are good reasons why pro-aborts are afraid of showing women ultrasounds, for the simple reason that it will mean less abortions.

"reproduction of the contents of her body"

Clearly this writer knows nothing of human development. Only a clone is capable of "reproducing the contents of her body."

Nope. That baby is a unique, unrepeatable person.

The Pedgehog said...

"Sounds like "anonymous" E is a little nervous about women being fully informed about their procedure. Full disclosure, or informed consent, is what women deserve. To not offer the ultrasound is to keep these women in the dark about their medical "choice.""

Neither E nor I said anything about not allowing women the option of looking at the ultrasound. The point is that they shouldn't HAVE to if they don't want to. ie choice.

"There are good reasons why pro-aborts are afraid of showing women ultrasounds, for the simple reason that it will mean less abortions."

I think the word you want is fewer, not less. But as I have said, if a woman doesn't really want the abortion, we won't give it to her. If there's the slightest bit of hesitation on her part, then no abortion. So no, that's not a big concern for us.

I don't care about forcing women to look at ultrasounds because it would mean they choose not to have an abortion. I care because it means their choices are not being taken seriously.

""reproduction of the contents of her body"

Clearly this writer knows nothing of human development. Only a clone is capable of "reproducing the contents of her body."

Nope. That baby is a unique, unrepeatable person."

What he was referring to when he said "reproduction" was not the fetus itself, but the image on the screen. The fetus is the contents, the image is the reproduction.

Reading comprehension is your friend.

The Pedgehog said...

Anonymous - thank you so much for sharing your experience. It's good to get some insight into why women choose to look at the ultrasound, and then what makes it different when it's twins.

E - Oklahoma, South Dakota and Ohio have passed laws to this effect, and Georgia has considered one. Here is a short article about Sam Brownback's introduction of a similar bill: http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2007/09/brownback_would_require_women_to_get_an_ultrasound_before_an_abortion.php

The Pedgehog said...

Sorry that link didn't work. My bad.

feministincowboyboots said...

It is rather baffling that some women would decide to have twins when they had previously decided they were unable to continue with a single pregnancy. I think there is a mythology about twins: how special they are, how cute they will look in their matching outfits, how much attention they will get when being pushed around town in their prams and so on. The increased risk of the pregnancy, as well as the double amount of work and cost gets forgotten in this cultural imaginary.

Ricky Martin said...

Dear 'feministcowboyboots':

Funny that you should talk about mythology. Feminism ranks right up there as a great myth of our times.

feministincowboyboots said...

The Webster's Dictionary defines mythology as: a body of myths (i.e traditional stories), especially those relating to a people's gods and heroes and to their origins.

I was using and continue to use the term in this scholarly and accepted sense (and not in the more popular but inaccurate sense, to refer to a "false set of beliefs"). I must therefore gleefully agree with you that feminism is a fabulous mythology, with a rich tradition and significant impact on cultural beliefs.