Women don’t understand the risks?

Risks word on table

Opponents are clear about one thing; women don’t understand the risks. They aren’t giving informed consent because they aren’t fully informed. Sure, they may be counseled about the major risks, the ones that could kill you, but deaths are rare. The other complications are so much more common. If women only knew the myriad risks they faced, they’d never choose it in the first place.

Opponents recommend far more extensive counseling, preferably counseling that takes place long before the decision needs to be made. They helpfully offer books and websites as well as in person counseling about ALL the risks, not just the ones that doctors deign to mention. Doctors can’t be relied upon to provide truly informed consent since they have a conflict of interest. They’re the ones who make money if the woman elects the procedure.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It’s not a coincidence that natural childbirth advocates have taken a page from anti-choice activists.[/pullquote]

Inevitably there has been a backlash against the opponents but the opponents claim the high ground with the retort: “Are you saying that there are NO risks?” Everyone knows that there are risks and that comment exposes those in favor as being the lying, evil people that they are. Opponents are providing a valuable service by carefully and extensively counseling women about the risks. Once they know, they will turn down the procedure.

Think I’m talking about natural childbirth advocates and epidurals? Think again.

I’m talking about anti-choice advocates who work tirelessly to prevent women from choosing abortion.

It’s not a coincidence that natural childbirth advocates have taken a page from the playbook of anti-choice activists. They both have the same aim: to conceal their true purpose while pretending that they are concerned about informed consent, trying to place any and all obstacles to the procedure in the path of women who might choose it.

Neither group feels constrained by the truth. Reasoning that the ends justify the means, both groups routinely exaggerate and even fabricate “risks.” Seeking, above all else, validation of their personal philosophical beliefs, both groups struggle to convince women who would choose differently that those choices are wrong. Focussed entirely on preventing the procedure, both groups have zero regard for what happens to women once they reject the disapproved choice. They care about women up to the moment that they are forced into the “correct” decision; whatever happens afterward must simply be endured by the women they have duped.

Most of is can easily recognize the tactics of anti-choice activists for what they are, mendacious attempts to force women to make approved decisions. Most of us can easily recognize that the pregnancy “support” centers have no interest in supporting pregnancy and certainly have no interest in supporting the babies that result from those pregnancies. They are exclusively concerned with foisting their philosophical views on everyone else. Their pious bleating about “informed consent” masks their true motivation.

We should recognize the tactics of NCB advocates for what they are, mendacious attempt to force women to make approved childbirth decisions. We should recognize that NCB “education” has nothing to do with supporting women in finding the choice that is best for them. Advocates are exclusively concerned with foisting their philosophical views on everyone else. Their pious bleating about “informed consent” masks their true motivation.

This piece first appeared in June 2011.

  • sdsures

    A more general question that I’ve seen in the media:

    How can any patient (assuming they’re a layperson) be truly totally informed to be able to make a medical decision, without having gone to medical school? To an extent, they have to rely on what experts tell them, right?

  • LeighW

    Depressing but informative..

    “Because here’s one thing you should know. If you get the entire
    procedure done at the clinic at this late date, it’s $25,000. Cash…”


    • Amy

      Well that was heartbreaking. God bless those people at Dr. Hearn’s clinic. I don’t know how anyone could read that and still be anti-choice.

  • BeatriceC

    I grew up in a fundementalist catholic home. I could write a book about the lies and manipulative statements that were used to “teach” how evil abortion is. Actually, what would be more interesting is my discovery of all those lies once I broke free from the church.

    • sdsures

      You could write a book about that! 😀 I’d read it!

    • RMY

      I’m in the same boat as you. So many lies.

  • Young CC Prof

    I remember a study from 2013 which purported to show that abortion was dangerous, because women who had abortions were more likely to die within the next few years than women who had live births.

    The authors:

    1) Tried to control for factors like age, but completely ignored socioeconomic status

    2) Omitted deaths that occurred during pregnancy before delivery, or maternal deaths associated with a stillbirth, which are actually kind of a lot.

    But yeah, if you have an abortion, you might be more likely to die of something totally unrelated five years later. Totally an important fact, and totally something that carrying the pregnancy to term is going to prevent.

    • LaMont

      It’s almost like helping mitigate the life factors that drive unplanned pregnancy would help with life expectancy overall! I had a bolt from the blue about the anti-choice movement recently. They don’t just dislike Planned Parenthood, they dislike *planned parenthood*. They prefer unplanned parenthood. Babies are gifts from god that shouldn’t be planned in any way by people. It’s divine and you shouldn’t seek to control or understand it. This is the only way to explain ALL of their views at once – the anti-choice, anti-sex-ed, anti-IVF, anti-medicine, all of it. It’s “Deal with god’s plan for you, you sinners.”

      • Young CC Prof

        That is exactly it. And before effective contraception or safe abortion, that maybe even made sense, teaching people that all children deserve love, no matter how they came into this world. (Remember, infanticide was normal for most of human history.) George Bernard Shaw and Jonathan Swift both roundly condemned birth control as damaging to marriage.

        But you can’t make people love their children just by telling them God says so. You certainly can’t make people physically, financially or emotionally ready just by telling them they should be.

        • Roadstergal

          And you certainly can’t give their kids a safe and whole childhood, with all of the physical and emotional support and education a child deserves, just by denying mom an abortion.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        They don’t just dislike Planned Parenthood, they dislike *planned parenthood*.

        I love this line.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        I’ve been convinced that the “pro-life” movement actually hates fetuses and babies since the same people who support it also reject funding research into developing a zika vaccine or treatment. If they gave a crap about life, even only specifically fetal life, they’d be demanding immediate aggressive action on zika.

        • Charybdis

          They aren’t “pro-life”, they are “pro-birth”. Because they are all about the sanctity of life, don’t kill your baby, abortion is a particularly heinous form of birth control, God gave you this child you are carrying and you are going to kill it, have you thought about adoption, abortion stops a beating heart, all those sound bytes they spout sound good, perhaps supportive in the beginning.

          Until you have the baby, then you become a strumpet, a floozy, a whore of Babylon who can’t or won’t keep her legs closed and who have become a drain on the system.

          • LaMont

            I mean, they also often oppose medical advances that aid fertility too, so I don’t think they really are pro-birth. Just anti-choice. It’s all god’s decision, not yours.

  • Spamamander

    At age 15 I knew my choice to have a vacuum aspiration abortion was much safer than continuing a pregnancy and giving birth.

    • sdsures

      *hugs* It still must have been a very difficult decision because you were so very young.

  • Roadstergal

    After reading the first paragraph, I thought this would be about vaginal birth. :p

    • Cartman36

      I thought it was about formula

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      It’s a rhetorical device beloved of natural parenting advocates of all kinds. It’s a variation of the false consciousness argument that women who make decisions they don’t approve of need to be “educated” to make the “right” choice.

    • Megan

      Its about whatever women “should/shouldn’t” be doing.

    • Wombat

      I thought it was going to be a flip of anti-lay-midwives and NCB advocates.

      But then it got more out there.

      Guess it goes to show that it isn’t so much the arguments (at least at the absolute most basic level) as the omissions.

      Women deserve all relevant information and all legal options spelled out in the most unbiased way we know how. For sake of all appointments not being 8 hrs long, some brevity is to be expected but drilling down should be available on request (be it questions or resources).

  • guest

    Attn: Molly B.

    • Linden

      Molly B thinks if only women were informed, they’d *totally* accept 1.8% risk of uterine failure and 0.6% risk of death for their babies, because *mumble mumble epidural risks*
      …and those risks were quoted by the fourth doctor she asked, happy to take her money.

      • sdsures

        What is “uterine failure”?

        • Linden

          Ooops! Uterine rupture. Either that was the weirdest autocorrect ever or my mind is still on bretix

          • Linden

            Oops! Brexit!!

          • sdsures

            Mine, too. What a mess the country has put itself into.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        And 1.8% chance of having a general anaesthetic which would impact the baby far more than the tiny amount of opiate they might receive from an epidural.

  • Megan

    In my state, similar to other states’ recent changes, legislature has recently been proposed that would make termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks illegal. This is, of course, meant to occur around when women have their fetal anatomy screen so that it is very cumbersome, if not impossible to seek termination for a congenital anomaly. Fortunately, our governor says he would veto it if it ever reached his desk, but it is disheartening that we are moving backwards as far as a woman’s right to choose.
    The most concerning thing about the election this fall is that this upcoming president will be able to nominate a few US Supreme Court Justices, which could drastically change the legislative landscape. I urge people to think about this when voting for POTUS in the fall. IMO, that is the real issue to consider because of its far-reaching consequences.

    • Young CC Prof

      In this day and age, no one carries a pregnancy for several months and THEN decides to terminate because they don’t want to have a baby after all. It just doesn’t happen. The vast majority of people seeking an abortion after 20 weeks have wanted pregnancies affected by severe complications or fetal anomalies. Women unable to abort a dying fetus are not a small side effect of 20-week bans, they are the target, whether those supporting the ban realize it or not.

      • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

        Yes, this trope of the fickle bimbo who suddenly decides she doesn’t want a child on some trivial whim needs to die a quick death.

        • LeighW

          No one is booking a late term abortion between salon appointments.

          And one thing no one seems to mention is the cost. You can’t just walk into your local PP, plop down a few hundred dollars and have it done.

          “Because here’s one thing you should know. If you get the entire
          procedure done at the clinic at this late date, it’s $25,000. Cash…”


          • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

            That was a great article, and really hard to read. I had to take a couple breaks it was so heart-wrenching.

          • Mishimoo

            That made me cry. What an absolutely heartbreaking situation to be in, I hope they get answers (and a healthy baby) soon.

      • Roadstergal

        “The vast majority of people seeking an abortion after 20 weeks have wanted pregnancies affected by severe complications or fetal anomalies”

        Or, increasingly, are women who knew they wanted to terminate before 20 weeks, but were given the runaround of long drives due to laws driving providers out of business, mandatory and medically unnecessary waiting periods, and all of the other roadblocks conservatives put between women and abortions in order to stall them until it’s too late.

        Feature, not bug.

      • sdsures

        Unless said fetus shows up having a fatal anomaly that the woman is unprepared to deal with.