Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Last Abortion on Earth

Recently on an online discussion, someone brought up the following for discussion...

Practitioners who counsel women seeking abortions do an exercise called "the last abortion." The participants choose one woman among six who will be allowed to receive the last abortion on earth. It is an exercise in individual ethics and forces one to confront her own prejudices. There is an orphaned teenager, a victim of rape, a woman carrying a medically deformed fetus, a 46-year-old woman with HIV, a 12-year-old, and a graduate student who wants to finish her Ph.D. They all have good reasons, because all the reasons are theirs. And in the end, that is the answer: All the reasons are theirs.

If you were the chooser -- what would be your choice?

The fellow who put this on the table proceeded to state why his particular choice was the "right" one. But in my mind, that misses the whole point of the exercise -- and what makes it so difficult.

The issue is not simply which woman is more deserving, or which fetus is less viable. It is who makes the choice -- and that is what governed my answer.

I would rather have the women meet in a room, explain what needs to be done, provide them all of the information they would need and want, from medical data to possible future outcome, and let them discuss and decide for themselves. And while I'd prefer it to be by consensus, such a decision should also be made by the women themselves, not me or anyone else.

Yes, it would be difficult to have these women look into their hearts and decide whether or not a given pregnancy will come to term, and what to do afterwards. But, then again, that's the difficulty which each and every woman with a crisis pregnancy faces every day.

Something we should strive to remember whenever this debate comes around yet again.

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