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Abortion as Health Care?

by Oct 2, 2021Respect Life

As Catholics we are rightly opposed to abortion for the simple reason that it takes a life. Life, which St. John Paul II called “the most fundamental of human rights.” We celebrate life with the birth of a child; we mourn the loss of life and in that moment we celebrate and recall all the moments that made up the life. We understand all life comes to its own natural end, that death is inevitable. We don’t understand the end of life needlessly caused by human accident, carelessness or intention.

Why it’s Important. When faced with deadly disease we marshal the forces of medicine to the cause of life. When faced with conditions that impact safety we monitor, regulate, and make changes. And yet when death comes via the route of abortion we do not marshal the same defense of life. This right to take a life has the protection of law, the communal shrug of “it’s a personal choice” yet since the ratification of Roe v. Wade, tens of million lives have been ended via abortion. It is done under the moniker of “reproductive health care.” Is it health care? Are there unintended effects?

Go Deeper. “In recent years pro-abortion groups have radically altered their messaging strategy, abandoning the slogan of “choice” to claim instead that abortion is simply essential health care for women. References to abortion or abortion “services” have been replaced in pro-abortion literature by the euphemism “care.” By claiming an objective basis in medicine, abortion supporters seek to marginalize health care providers and others who disagree with them, dismissing these Americans as not living up to “the standard of care.” (Abortion is not Health Care, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, USCCB)

The topic of abortion can generate report after report, statistics upon statistics. It is a moral issue with complex socio-religious-economic factors. But as regards “standard of care” it is noteworthy that only 3% of abortions are performed in hospitals, and a little more than 1% in physicians’ offices. It has become a specialized practice in which 74% of abortions are done by facilities that do a thousand abortions or more a year; 16% are done by facilities that do 5,000 or more a year. This conjures the image of the efficiency and production of an assembly line. Are there complications from such production rates? The post-abortion complication rate is estimated between 2-4% with the majority of the complications passing with post-abortion care.

The advocates of abortion are now moving beyond the clinic as they recommend the abortion drug mifepristone can be prescribed via telemedicine and provided by mail to women. Studies indicate the rate of complications is in the 8-16% range. But these women are in their own homes without access to medical care. One wonders how that contributes to a “standard of care.”

Is abortion “health care?” Women seeking abortions overwhelmingly report they are not doing so for “health” reasons. Only 6% cite any concern for their own health among the reasons for the abortion. Choosing abortion often results in more devastating consequences. Women find themselves dealing with unexpected emotions of guilt and remorse. These lives also can be lost to the tragedy of abortion.

Suicide rates among women of childbearing age are approximately 11.3 out of 100,000. What about women of childbearing age who have given birth? The suicide rate less than half of the general population of childbearing aged women. What about women who have had abortions? Their rate of suicide is three times higher than the general rate. “Compared with women who give birth, those who had abortions were more likely to subsequently die of suicide, accidents, homicide, mental disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Previous psychiatric disease does not appear to explain the higher relative death rates.” (California Study cited in Abortion is not Health Care)

A Standard of Care. The standard of care for the unborn is delineated and specific. “It has been the policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1988 that the unborn child is a patient eligible for treatment by the pediatrician. The Academy reaffirmed this policy in 2017: ‘Pediatrics is a multifaceted specialty that encompasses children’s physical, psycho-social, developmental, and mental health. Pediatric care may begin periconceptionally and continues through gestation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.’” (emphasis added)

For this and many other reasons, this is why we care. Not because the women or unborn children are Catholic, but because we are Catholic. It is incumbent upon all of us to promote and defend a culture of life, remembering that sovereignty over life is in the will of God.

Seeking to defend all life, let us continue to pray and work for a softening of hearts towards the most vulnerable of our society, help for those who find themselves in untenable situations and an infusion of grace from the Holy Spirit that these goals will be accomplished. Let there truly be a standard of health care for women and their unborn children.