How to be a good doctor: counseling your patients on abortion

In medical school, abortion counseling is not part of our education. Here is a life-changing moment, when a woman is most likely in shock, vulnerable, and in need of medical guidance, and we don’t learn how to present her options to her and counsel her? In the mudpit of politics about transvaginal ultrasoundsabortion clinic regulationsdumb right-wing politicians, and anti-abortion groups masquerading as help sites, doctors should be the ultimate resource for every woman. I personally don’t advocate for abortion, but I believe it MUST be an option for women with an unwanted pregnancy.

In looking for sources on abortion counseling, beyond the bread-and-buttereducational resources, I came across religious blogs and websites about “survivors of abortion” and “abortion is murder” stuff. Some of it is vomit-worthy, and some actually worth reading. (I’m not going to get mired in the discussion of religious views on abortion. The artificial polarization of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” infuriates me, and would take a book chapter to explain.)

In this post, Bryan Kemper asks the question, what would I say to one of my daughters if she came home and told me she was pregnant?

“Our words, especially our first words, to a girl who gets pregnant can determine the path she takes and can be the difference between life and death. As a father of three daughters I do wonder how I would react if one of my daughters came home one day and told me she was pregnant. What would I say? Would I blow up and lose my temper? Or would I love her no matter what mistake she made?

When we go to God in prayer and confess our sins, do you think He screams and yells and has a huge fit? I don’t think so. Do you think he yells at us and tells us how horrible we are, and how much of a disgrace we are to the family? I don’t think so. When we go to Him, He is faithful to love and forgive us. I pray that I never have to go through this with my daughters, but if I do, I pray that my first words to her are those of love.

Yes, we do know that abortion is the act of killing a human person and can never be permitted. Yes, we know that abortion is a sin and is detestable in God’s eyes. Yes, we know that we need to stand up against this evil and be there to try to help people from making such a tragic and horrific mistake. But more importantly than all of that, we know those people need Christ and we need to love them as Christ would.

I think this is a pretty good attitude to have when counseling, regardless of faith. I won’t be quoting John if I have a patient who is considering an abortion, but I hope that I will be able to show her that the doctor’s office is a non-judgmental space, that I will do what is best for HER, and that I want her to make the choice that she feels most comfortable with.

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About the friendly intern

Ask a question: The Friendly Intern My personal blog: Pathos and Pathology
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One Response to How to be a good doctor: counseling your patients on abortion

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your insightful perspective. As a fervently pro-choice woman, I don’t think abortion should ever be something lightly considered – but I also cannot imagine that the majority of women would even consider so drastic a measure without due cause. I hope that other people will follow your example – because in this day and age where everything seems a rush to judgment, where any doctor’s visit seems to be conducted as if on a conveyor belt, I personally am grateful for people like you who take the time to consider the psychological impact and emotional well-being of actual and potential patients.

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