Thursday, 7 May 2009

Smile, you're on candid camera

A few years ago I went in for my annual cervical smear in Korea. Because I was unmarried my local hospital wouldn't do the procedure, I had to go to a whizz bang private gynecologist in central Seoul (there's another post for another time). While she was poking around down there she offered to bring up pictures of my cervix on a TV screen in her examination room. Before I had a chance to say 'erm that's an image I could do without seeing' there were my lady parts being beamed into room. With a speculum inserted in a place where the sun don't shine I wasn't exactly in a position to run out of the doctor's office, so tried to keep my eyes shut through the ordeal. It isn't that I'm ashamed of my genitals it's just I get squeamish with just about seeing any bit of my body that should be on the inside. I don't mind giving blood but seeing the bright red stuff makes me feel faint and I wasn't entirely happy camper when I had an ultrasound done on my heart.

Right now Ken Orr right to life are having a tanty because 4/15 DHBs don't offer women who want an abortion a ultrasound scan. Unlike Kiwiblog I don't see this as a major attack on patient's choice. The woeful lack of access to abortion centres in provincial New Zealand impinges far more on choice than seeing an ultrasound. Because this 'right' to see an ultrasound image isn't about choice, it is about denying choice.

About a dozen states in America require ultrasound images of the fetus be shown to a woman prior to an abortion. In Oklahoma, the first state to enact this sort of legislation, a doctor is required to do an ultrasound and display it to the woman but also explain what’s on the screen if the patient chooses to close her eyes or look away. The purpose of the ultrasound is clear: women can't define consent for themselves, they need politicians do that for them and to protect them from their abortion providers.

Don't for one minute think that Right to Life wants the ultrasound image to be about choice.

20 comments:

A Nonny Moose said...

Guilt! GUILT! GUUUUUUUUUUUUIIIIIIIILLLLLLLT!!!

Sorry, what with the vax raucus, alcohol discussions, and general illogic-ness all round, I'm feeling particularly stabby today.

muerk said...
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Anna said...

I don't have a problem with women being given the option of looking, but it's really important that this be handled in a tactful way. Making it mandatory is quite frankly bizarre.

And I'm not sure that a foetus would look like a baby if you actually saw one. The slightly surreal black and white image of a scan is only a representation, after all. If the scan made the foetus look blobby and gross and not particularly human, as I suspect it actually is, then Ken Orr would campaign against women seeing it, lest it encourage us to abort.

The use of foetus imagery by SPUC really pisses me off. I remember the shite they sent in their newsletters in the 80s - 'perfect feet' badges which showed the life-size feet of a foetus (probably the only part which is identifiably human), plus pictures of aborted foetuses. All this seemed aimed at scaring children and grossing people out rather than discouraging ethical decision-making.

If women were shown pictures of lacerated vaginas, not many of us would want to go through childbirth. Maybe our reproductive decision-making needs to be a bit more sophistocated than what looks cute vs what looks gross?

A Nonny Moose said...

muerk, I know a fetus is a baby. You're treating every woman who makes this decision like an idiot who does this on a whim.

Of COURSE there is guilt and stress involved, but that guilt should not be esacerbated by your disapproval or hatred. Every woman has the right to do what's best for themselves with education and support, not judgment.

In this instance, if a woman was asked "would you like a scan before you proceed?", all well and good. Strapping a woman to a table and holding her ears open as a doctor or nurse disapprovingly shoves vitriol at them - not a choice at all.

Lucy said...

And ultrasound just shines a light on what an abortion actually is.Like A Nonny Mouse said: I'm pretty sure most women getting abortions are clear on the whole no-more-baby concept. That's kind of the *point*. In fact, around 50% of them already have kids - can't get much clearer than that. Insisting that women see ultrasounds before they have the abortion is just another part of the whole attitude that women can't really possibly be making an informed decision. It's - well, insulting to their intelligence. Like we need more of that in the whole drawn-out process.

muerk said...
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Trouble said...

Beating hearts are interesting but overrated. Don't worms have five each? It was about the only thing identifiable I could see on a 7 week scan - it could have been a cashew nut with a blinking LED for all I could tell.

In any case, watch Garth George loop the loop on how traumatic yet important ultrasounds are. Oh, the sincerity.

Anna said...

I had to look very hard to work out which bit of my foetuses was which, and I wanted both my babies. Your beliefs about foetuses probably influences what you see. But, again, what has the look of a foetus got to do with anything anyway? A pro-lifer wouldn't support aborting a foetus that was grossly deformed and didn't have a human shape. Surely the point is the moral value of the life, not how it looks? After all, the morning after pill aborts something that doesn't resemble a human in any way, but the Church still objects to that.

A Nonny Moose said...

Meurk, your argument is very emotive, and undoubtably sincere. Unfortunately, it's not moving the discussion ahead any - which I'm sure is just what the anti-choicers want.

My argument is just as sincere, laced with the practicality and logic that millenia of women have had to face. And I'll be damned if I (or any other woman in the same boat) will be called an unemotional beast.

If you don't want an abortion, fine. We're not forcing you to get one. But don't you dare tell any other woman what she can and can't do with her body. Even misognyny can come in female form.

Azlemed said...

I recently had a scan at 5 weeks three days, it looked like a blob that had a blippy bit in it... similar with the scan I had at 9 weeks with my son. most ultrasounds I have seen do not resemble much till around 12 weeks when you can distinguish more of the shape etc.

making women go through that for no reason but cos it makes others feel good doesnt make sense to me... Women do have brains but for some unfathomable reason pro lifers seem to think that we cannot make decisions for ourselves about what is best for us and the outcomes of a pregnancy.

muerk said...
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muerk said...
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Lucy said...

You're right, beating hearts can be overrated, since our individual existence begins at conception.The thing that I can't quite get: you genuinely and honestly believe that *the very moment* a sperm enters an egg inside the woman, all her rights to autonomy, freedom, health, well-being, and happiness are trumped by that zygote's right to use her body to live.

Say what you want, but that sounds pretty misogynistic to me.

Azlemed said...

if we take the line that conception = rights to live then when I had my ectopic pregnancy in feb i had an abortion, because it was a fetus that had rights, but it wasnt implanted in my womb and would have killed me but if you take the line that conception =rights to life then I chose to end that pregnancy.

where is the line of abortion extended to? or the rights of the fetus(sp). are there exemptions as to what is an abortion if you take the rights of fetus start at conception?

muerk said...
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A Nonny Moose said...

"How's about we look at China or India and their sex selective abortions. See that's what I would call misogyny."

Just because ONE form of abortion isn't morally acceptable doesn't mean it equates to all being unacceptable. That's muddying the waters.

"So... with cheap, available, reliable contraception. No stigma for single motherhood. Full health care and cheap education for kids. And the DPB, why are women needing to abort?"

Contraception Cheap? Having been on the pill for 15 years, I say not - at $70 every 6 months (doctors visit plus prescription), I would NOT call that cheap. In fact it took a hefty jump in the last 3 years since the Govt stopped subsidizing it.

Availability? The amount of shame and mis-education thrown at teens is one hell of a hurdle.

Stigma? Congratulations, you had a sound upbringing. But let me check with the rabid, over-opinionated hordes on places like the Herald or Stuff which bemoan the degredation of welfare teens getting knocked up left, right and centre.

As for the DPB, you're advocating it as OK to strain the welfare system simply so that no baby goes unborn? GREAT! I'm gonna pop a few sprogs and stop being a tax paying citizen coz I know it's cool to bludge. Sounds like the sweet life.

Full health care? Another strained system in the country, with waiting lists a mile long and mothers being shoved out of the delivery suite within 24 hours.

Cheap Education? Books, fees, sports gear, uniforms, tutoring fees, trips, fees if you're private school...tertiary fee, student loans (one of which I'm just paying off TEN YEARS after the fact)...Yeah, that school system is REAL cheap.

You have unrealistic expectations on a government's systems with increased population, but no sound way to PAY for these systems if these parents are using the DPB and not contributing in tax.

muerk said...
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Lucy said...

The embryo isn't "using" her mother's body in the connotative sense of exploit.Yes, it is. It's relying upon the mother's body to live. We don't recognise the right of someone else to, say, use someone else's kidney for dialysis, even if their life is in peril if they don't. Fetuses don't have special rights in this regard.

muerk said...
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captiver said...

Re ex-pat's original comment that RTL's ultrasound campaign isn't for a moment about choice. Right on! Last July, RTL wrote to the Abortion Supervisory committee requesting (to quote its newsletter) "that women considering
an abortion be informed in writing that the abortion procedure 'will terminate the life of a whole,
separate, unique, living human being'.") All part of being "fully informed."
One more note on this. Garth George and RTL constantly quote the figures of 62-95% of women considering abortion changing their minds after seeing an ultrasound. These "stats" come from Crisis Pregnancy Centres in the U.S. (media NEVER asks for details of these figures, just prints them!) which are run by anti-abortion campaigners. So besides seeing their scans, women at these centres are likely to have been through other things besides, like being shown anti-abortion videos, having been been asked to name their fetuses, being given baby clothes like booties, being shown models of fetuses, etc. In addition, the ultrasounds are frequently run by non-medical personnel. Ultrasounds as part of anti-abortion campaigning is a big thing in the U.S. now and, as per usual, RTL is following the U.S. tactical playbook on this matter.