Abortion and Knee Surgery Are the Same – Right?

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Rewire recently published an interesting piece on the state of women making decisions about abortion. The article, written by Nicole Knight, is titled, “New Research Eviscerates Widespread Anti-Choice Myth.” Ah, don’t you just love loaded language?

The “research” they cite refers to a study that shows that women feel more certain about their decision to have an abortion than they do about some other medical decisions, such as having knee surgery. (I use quotes because, frankly, 500 women at four clinics in Utah who are 70% white doesn’t strike me as a particularly impressive sample size).

The article goes on to say:

“The authors found that women felt about the same or a bit more certainty about their abortion care decision than those making decisions such as taking antidepressants while pregnant, undergoing prenatal tests after infertility, and choosing a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. Respondents were more sure about receiving abortion care than those seeking reconstructive knee surgery.”

Why does this matter? According to the article, this means that certain state-required pre-abortive medical requirements, such as waiting periods and counseling, are unnecessary. They are sneaky impositions on women made by pro-life meddlers who want us all to believe that this is a very hard and traumatic decision for a woman to make. Nope! Says Rewire, this decision is easier than making a decision about reconstructive knee surgery, so it’s basically getting a tooth pulled.

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I fail to see the logic.

Decision making on abortion is not exceptional because it is a harder decision to make than whether or not to get knee surgery. Decision making on abortion is exceptional because it is a bigger decision to make than whether or not to get knee surgery. It’s a decision that has our nation divided over the ethics. It’s a decision that has been known to cause mental illness and lifelong regret.

The question this article fails to ask is, what exactly is the value of certainty? I once heard the late philosopher Dallas Willard make the startling claim that, “Certainty is a psychological condition.” The way we feel about what we believe or the decisions we make says nothing about how true that belief is or how wise that decision is. Many a sixteen-year-old has made questionable decisions because they were certain they knew what they were doing. Many a terrible performer has been certain they would achieve stardom yet. As G.K. Chesterton has written in Orthodoxy, the best place to find men and women who are really certain is in an insane asylum. A man may be certain that he is a cat, and of course he is insane – but even more than that, he is certain.

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The observation that women feel confident about their decisions to get abortions is entirely insignificant. The conclusion that the author draws, that therefore state-imposed pre-abortion requirements such as counseling or waiting periods are unnecessary pro-life traps, is absolutely ridiculous. All major medical procedures require similar pre-procedure steps that have to be taken, such as information doctors are legally required to share or statements of understanding patients are required to sign.

These measures don’t exist because people think that women aren’t capable of making decisions and need the government to hold their hand – they exist because the state recognizes the extreme moral complexity of the abortion issue and the immense side-effects it can have, and wants to treat it with care. Rewire’s quick dismissal of these realities demonstrates intellectual and moral carelessness – we demand more.

Think women deserve more? We do, too! Join us in offering them real options.