In Pregnancy Counselling--Delays Hurting Abortion Efforts
by Sylvia Brooks
reprinted from the Columbus, Ohio Citizen-Journal, March 29, 1974
Planned Parenthood of Columbus is at least two weeks behind in problem pregnancy counseling, and in some cases the delay is so long women wanting simple abortions cannot get them in local clinics.
The problem, according to executive director Mary Harris, is that the agency does not have enough staff to handle the volume, and now over 55 per cent of the patients are being referred by private physicians.
Local clinics, using a simple surgical procedure, will only do it on women 12 weeks pregnant, or under. Over that, the procedure becomes more complicated and should be done in a hospital.
Mrs. Harris feels Planned Parenthood has been "caught in the middle," as the agency has had to stop all other kinds of sexual and reproductive counseling to meet the need.
The Citizen-Journal talked with many agencies doing similar counseling, Planned Parenthood staff, patients and others.
All said some women are being forced to go to New York because they cannot get an appointment at Planned Parenthood before the 12th week of the pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood does not give out telephone numbers of local abortion clinics over the telephone, and requires people to come into the agency in person for information.
Mrs. Harris says the personal contact is important:
"We feel it is our obligation to counsel with a patient and not just be a conduit. We counsel in all our other programs."
However, she said because of the increased demand, the board of the agency would probably reconsider the prohibition against giving telephone information.
Many professional counselors, however, do not agree. Ann Kaplan, with the Abortion Education Society of Ohio, says Planned Parenthood should give out clinic numbers over the telephone and not insist on counseling.
"They (Planned Parenthood) see abortion as a major, traumatic experience and that each women needs professional counseling. I just can't agree," Ms. Kaplan said.
One of the biggest problems faced by Planned Parenthood is that since their abortion counseling programs were announced, private doctors have started referring patients there at an increasing rate.
Many professionals cannot understand why doctors, now that abortion is legal, cannot handle the counseling and referral of their own patients, as they do with other medical problems.
However, it appears that even doctors who are not against abortion are reticent to become involved in the abortion issue, and refer their patients to other agencies.
Planned Parenthood officials feel the problem of abortion counseling is a community one, and hope to try to form a coalition of agencies doing counseling to set up a central information and referral system.
Mrs. Harris says the Medical Advisory Committee of the agency will meet, and she hopes they approach the Academy of Medicine to ask for help in working out the problems.
Mrs. Harris also said the agency would try to find funds to hire additional counseling staff--they now have two people working 60 hours total per week--and would try to work with all community groups interested in the problem.
There are two things I notice about this particular article that I would like to call to your attention. The first is that Planned Parenthood at that time and place was not truly dedicated to choice, because they offered only one choice: abortion, through their abortion counseling. They were not providing contraceptive services to help prevent pregnancy. While one may or may not agree with providing contraception as a solution to the problem of untimely pregnancy, the fact is, Planned Parenthood made this one of their planks, and operates in the public eye under that plank, and when they stop doing contraceptive services, without simultaneously admitting that they are no longer a pro-choice organization, but instead focus strictly on providing abortion, they mislead the public in general and women in particular. Elsewhere I have referenced statistics to show that Planned Parenthood still places its major emphasis on providing abortion, to the detriment of other services they claim to offer.
The second thing I would like to point out is that for all its faults, Planned Parenthood is right about counseling being essential prior to abortion. We can only hope that they continue to give this high priority, though we greatly fear that the kind of counseling provided is woefully inadequate. In the end, failure to provide complete disclosure and thus to protect the consumer's rights of pregnant women, is actually self-defeating. This is because most women, when they find out what they should have been told prior to their abortions, will react strongly against abortion in general. From the discussions I have had with all kinds of women, I have learned that those women who did a thorough investigation PRIOR to having an abortion, and still chose to go through with it, are most likely to support abortion and continue to support it. In light of the fact that vast numbers of aborted women are now coming out of denial, and joining the pro-life movement, the folly of not providing adequate information prior to abortion is plainly evident. The kind of information that needs to be given includes the stage of development of their child, including information on the issue of pain caused by abortion to the child, accurate information on medical complications, and information concerning Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS or PAS). I must also hasten to note, however, that if women were given this information in advance, it is highly likely that sufficiently few women would go through with abortion that it would no longer be a source of high income for abortionists, and a lot of abortion facilities would shut down. But this, of course, is what we want! The abortion movement is caught, therefore, on the horns of a dilemma: either lie to women, deceive them, take their money, and possibly maim or kill them, violating the principles of informed consent, or face the closure of the abortion industry.
It should also be noted that many of the people quoted in this article fail to understand why doctors object to abortion. These people would like to sweep under the rug the fact that abortion is the deliberate killing of unborn children, who are fully human and entitled to legal protection of their right to life. The fact that we as women are being expected to participate in the destruction of our own children and pressured into it seems to have escaped notice. Doctors are understandably reluctant to be involved in abortion, because they have been trained to preserve life, and many of them have sworn an oath never to kill. It is subterfuge for any person to state publicly any kind of confusion as to the motivations of doctors, therefore, for not getting involved.
We, of course, remain firm in our conviction that abortion is a sick "solution" to a woman's problem with untimely pregnancy, and is a phenomenally major obstacle to true equality for women. We maintain our position that abortion is actually the rape of women's bodies with cold instruments of death, or the use of drugs and plugs to destroy a woman's bodily integrity and autonomy.
Nevertheless, we welcome anything that will reduce the incidence of abortion. This is essential for the good of women, children, and society.
Background graciously provided by: