Summary: Counselors and Physicians Should Pre-Screen Women Before Abortion to Mitigate Known Risks

Counselors and physicians should pre-screen women for predictive risk factors of post-abortion maladjustment. Not to do so has significant clinical ethical, and legal implications for practitioners of abortion.

  • Women may suffer serious emotional and/or physical consequences from induced abortion. Researchers  have indentified specific criteria that can predict if women are more likely to experience negative reactions after abortion. They include the patient's self-esteem, family and work relationships, and relationships with partner. These criteria need to be properly assessed and discussed prior to the procedure as they are aspects of the patient's life and will therefore influence her decision. In addition to evaluating these criteria, it is equally important to inform the women about the potential problems that may arise after abortion. Proper screening and full disclosure can reduce the risks to the woman, particularly in that she may choose to forego an abortion entirely. The view that a woman's "right to choose" without regard to medical screening or counseling supersedes traditional medical ethics and can be detrimental to women undergoing abortions. Simply put, failing to screen women intending to get an abortion is negligent - ethically and legally.1

    1
    Abortion Decisions and the Duty to Screen: Clinical, Legal, and Ethical Implications of Predictive Risk Factors of Post-Abortion Maladjustment, Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, Vol. 20, 2003

 

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