Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quebec Health Ministry admits: abortion is a source of suffering

On June 6th, Quebec’s Health Ministry came out with a new perinatal policy. The policy covers a wide variety of topics dealing with unborn and newborn children.

Therapeutic abortion—that is, abortions for “social reasons” are not generally touched on. However, “medical abortions”, that is, abortions for genetic anomalies and diseases—are addressed.

And what I read was rather eye-opening.

When I read government or medical documents dealing with abortion, I’m used to seeing a bureaucratic tone that presents abortion as a neutral event. The usual euphemisms are employed. The underlying assumption is that it will not cause any damage. It’s just like any other operation.

That’s not how this policy treats medical abortions. And by the way, we’re usually talking about abortions in the second trimester—possibly the third, although much rarer.

Since the policy was keen to address the issue of perinatal grief—that is, the loss of a child either born or unborn, the issue of abortion had to be addressed.

And the forthrightness with which the document addresses the issue is refreshing.

Take for example, this citation, page 42, on prenatal diagnosis:

The diagnosis of a serious disease obliges [the parents] to undergo the mourning of a child in perfect health, to accept to have a different family life, notably on the social and economic level; and to deal with the sadness and anxieties linked to the health of the child and the treatment he will need. A medical termination of pregnancy can also be envisioned. However, this option brings on a series of painful questions, and plunges the couple into uncertainty, feelings of guilt and eventually, grief.

They acknowledge that the decision to abort is entirely theirs. But it’s a decision that has painful ramifications. And the authors are frank about the nature of that pain.

In the section dealing with perinatal grief, the document is, again, very blunt. On end-of-life issues, it says:

We must also offer to his family support during this difficult period. Other circumstances—spontaneous abortion, abortion for genetic anomalies, stillbirths—can equally lead to mourning and are equally sources of suffering for mothers and fathers. (p.112)

It’s not a pretty picture of “medical abortions”.

Gee, you don’t get that side from the pro-abort activists, do you?

But not only does the government admit to abortions being a tragedy and a source of pain:

Each of these events, as well as the parents’ subsequent distress, are tragedies that are not well known and are poorly understood, in both the medical and social services community, as well as in society in general.

So what does the government want to do? It wants to spread the word about the perinatal grief caused by these events.

And not only that-- it wants to remedy the lack of support for perinatal grief (p.113):

Spontaneous abortion, [therapeutic abortion], regardless of the motive, and stilbirths, are all circumstances that can lead to perinatal grief. However, a certain ignorance on the part of community agents in the wider population, the possible causes of perinatal grief, the incomprehension that surrounds the grief at the loss of a being whom others never knew, the absence of well-established protocols and the lack of human resources are factors that can affect the intensity of the support given to parents by health professionals and by community agents. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, the services offered to the family are often insufficient. As a matter of fact, few services are offered to mothers and fathers in the case of a loss of a fetus of less than 20 weeks.

This is a very important development, a step in the right direction.

However, it raises some interesting questions.

If abortions are such incredible sources of pain, why does the medical system offer them? Even if one were to make the case that it’s in the “best interests of the child” (which is of course a load of bunk)—the question remains: is it in the best interests of the woman? And during the pregnancy, isn’t it the woman that we’re concerned about, not the fetus?

If therapeutic abortions are sources of pain, will the government make that information more generally available in abortion clinics? Will it offer post-abortion treatment in a more widespread manner?

And if they are sources of pain, will the government discourage recourse to abortion?

I also find it interesting that the Quebec National Assembly just voted “unanimously” (by voice vote) to oppose Bill C-484.

How does this policy to be more compassionate towards perinatal loss square with this motion? It’s like saying: yeah, we’re really sorry you lost your baby, but we’re not going to legally recognize that. Isn’t that a slap in the face of women who lose their children through crime?

This document raises many interesting questions.

As an aside, I’d like to refer to Quebec Federation of Omnipracticians’ document on second trimester abortion and perinatal grief.

They can be very blunt about the issue, too.

To end the life of a baby they love is, for many parents, the most difficult decision of their lives.”

And they also voiced their opposition to Bill C-484.

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