Saturday, 17 November 2007

Early medical abortions in international waters

Via the f-word blog, an interview with Rebecca Gomperts:

'She is the founder of Women on Waves (WoW), a radical Dutch organisation that sails an "abortion ship" to countries where the procedure is illegal, before taking women out to the safety of international waters to provide terminations...As a doctor, I look at the abortion issue from a health perspective and the fact is that an early abortion is safer than giving birth. That is not meant to promote abortion because if women want to have children it is a risk they are naturally willing to take. However, if they don't want them they should never be forced to take that risk."'

15 comments:

doc said...

Oh sure. Giving birth is such a huge risk, one wonders how the human race even survived without this critical procedure and the boat of death. What kind of hashish are you and her smoking?

pj said...

Actually it is rather well known that pregnancy is quite a large risk compared to abortion. In the UK the risk of death from pregnancy (direct and indirect, and including ectopics) is about 1:10,000 - which is not huge, but is a significant cause of mortality.

In countries without the medical care of a Western country death from pregnancy is much higher, for example, parts of Africa it is 1:200. Even just considering the ectopic pregnancy rate that runs at 1:60-100 child birth would have been a massive risk historically (of course mortality was much higher historically so the child birth risk would have been less obvious since so many other things might kill you anyway).

doc said...

Oh, I see. So you see abortion as the answer to the higher death from pregnancy rates in Africa. I'm wondering, is there ever a situation where you think abortion is not the answer for an issue related to pregnancy, and if so what?

pj said...

No, I see legal medical abortion as the answer to the higher death rates from illegal back street abortions.

But that has nothing to do with my reply to you. By showing the differential death rates from abortion and pregnancy I was pointing out why Rebecca Gomperts is right*, and you, as always, are wrong on the figures.


*She says:

'...the fact is that an early abortion is safer than giving birth. That is not meant to promote abortion because if women want to have children it is a risk they are naturally willing to take. However, if they don't want them they should never be forced to take that risk."'

doc said...

Your contention is abortion saves womens lives. My question is what that has to do with the 20-year-old coming in to get an abortion because she doesnt want to take care of a baby?

doc said...

'Nothing' is the answer to that question by the way.

But logic doesn't seem to be a big part of your answers since you seem to believe that abortion is some kind of safety device.

pj said...

Abortion undoubtedly saves women's lives, looking at the figures I would say perhaps around 3 per 100,000.

My question is whether you are able to accept that undoubted fact?

doc said...

Why wouldn't I? If its a fact, its a fact. I don't have that problem. I'd still like to hear your response to my previous question. Even if it did, what does that have to do with the 95% of abortions done for convenience?

pj said...

Well Gomperts's point is that as pregnancy is riskier than termination you shouldn't force women to go through with a pregnancy. I rather made the converse point in my previous post, that the claim that abortion increases breast cancer risk is a crap argument against abortion.

doc said...

I couldnt care less about some supposed link between breast cancer and abortion, which is just as sound an argument against it as is yours for it. Using that same axiom, the mortality rate of aborted children is infinitely larger than those of birthed children, thus it is really not fair to abort them. Its the same nonsensical argument. I suppose you agree that all women should have the breast removed at birth, or people infect with HIV should be at the very least contained in concentration camps, if not killed, since the chance of them infecting others is greater if they are allowed in the population among those not infected. I dont see how you can seriously make that argument because all of those are just as valid in comparison to yours.

pj said...

You may not have noticed, being quite clearly challenged in the comprehension of written English, that I have not at any point advocated abortion as a health measure other than as a reductio ad absurdum argument against the breast cancer claim.

As to Gomperts's argument, given that I do not believe that the foetus has a moral status (particularly at the stage that Gomperts carries out abortions - before 7 weeks gestation) it is a perfectly reasonable position. Since carrying a child to term is more risky than an elective abortion there is no medical reason why a woman should not have an abortion.

doc said...

Oh, i'm sorry. So you don't think abortion should be given to anyone unless their life is at risk, and that should only be done at a rate of 3 women per 100,000. thanks.

pj said...

As I said, your comprehension skills could do with some work - none of those things follow from what I've said.

My views on abortion have been presented previously - I do not regard the foetus as having a moral status, certainly not before 26 weeks - so I think abortion should be available on demand, the earlier the better. As for the health implications, it is simply a fact that pregnancy is a greater risk than abortion, and thus an additional argument that women oughtn't to be compelled to carry a pregnancy they don't want.

As to the 3 in 10,000 figure - I'm afraid you seem to have no idea what it means, I'd be inclined to think you don't understand statistics or probability - the figure is derived from the fact that pregnancy has a risk of 1:30,000 (I'm excluding ectopics and indirect mortality here) and abortion has a risk of 1:200,000 - therefore, out of every 100,000 abortions 3 women will live that would have died if they had gone to term - you can't pick these women out before hand and just give them an abortion!

doc said...

You can't pick them? Really? So how can an abortion be performed under the guise of the pregnancy being a risk to the mothers health? It can't by your logic.

But I see you've decided to take your bally and go home. I suppose thats one way you could try to defend your indefensible position.y

pj said...

"You can't pick them? Really? So how can an abortion be performed under the guise of the pregnancy being a risk to the mothers health? It can't by your logic."

Leaving aside that I don't advocate abortion as a health measure, it seems you genuinely don't understand probability. By your reasoning no operation should ever be done because we can't pick those people it will definitely work for, and we can't pick those that will definitely get complications.

"But I see you've decided to take your bally and go home. I suppose thats one way you could try to defend your indefensible position

Uh?