National Right to Life News has reprinted an important article by McGill University professor Margaret Somerville about what constitutes informed consent. She notes:
Informed consent is not present if the information is inadequate — that’s medical negligence (malpractice). And even non-material information must be disclosed if it is raised by a person’s questions, which must be answered honestly and fully. Anna’s request to see the ultrasound image is relevant in this latter respect. Consent is never present where intentionally false information is given, especially when it involves consequences and risks — indeed, this can give rise to the legal wrongs of battery and assault. Anna believes, as I do, that her experience at the abortion clinic raises issues with respect to all of these requirements.
Informed consent also requires that the consent be voluntary, that is, not affected by coercion, duress or undue influence. To help ensure the consent is “free,” some American states legally require a “cooling off” period between deciding to have an abortion and its being carried out. Even assuming Anna’s consent was present initially, because consent is an ongoing process, not a one-time event, the voluntariness of her continuing consent is questionable in the circumstances existing at the point at which she was given sedation.
And, one of the most pernicious myths propagated in relation to abortion — one that we can see in the nurse’s reassurance to Anna that in two weeks she will have forgotten about all of this — is that abortion will restore the woman to a situation as if the pregnancy never occurred. That is impossible, as many women like Anna come to realize too late.
Anna speaks about her consent in this way, “In that time of my pregnancy I had a lot of nausea and was on a real hormonal roller coaster! The difference between my decision process in my ‘normal’ state and that ‘state’ are two worlds. I think that when a woman is pregnant, from my experience, she is much more vulnerable, and thus can be ‘pushed around’ more easily. This should be taken into account when a clinic is looking to have consent from a pregnant woman.”
Read the whole thing here. And see below for a list of other key articles and reports on abortion, coercion and informed consent to read and share with others.
Wanted and Coercion: Key Factors in Understanding Women’s Mental Health and Abortion
Conscience Leads to More Complete Support for Women
“This Wasn’t Really Counseling At All:” Raising Questions About “Choice” and Pre-Abortion Counseling
Disclosure and Coercion: Concealing Relevant Information Is “An Act of Coercion”
Forced Abortion in America: A Special Report
Special Report on Coercion Inside the Abortion Industry
Forced to Abort? Don’t Count on Clinics to Help