To be called pro-choice is to be in favor of a woman having the choice to terminate her pregnancy. Merriam-Webster defines it as “believing that pregnant women should have the right to choose to have an abortion.” The first law of making any decision, especially decisions that affect a woman’s health, is to be fully informed.
Every woman seeking an abortion has these rights:
1. She has the right – to insist that her abortion can only be performed by a licensed physician.
For most routine non-invasive procedures, knowing a physician’s history of medical malpractice may come off as excessive, possibly unnecessary. However, an abortion is an invasive procedure. If done incorrectly, an abortion can lead to hemorrhaging, infection and even death. Of the almost 42 million abortions performed performed worldwide, nearly half are performed by unskilled individuals.1 A woman should know she has the right to see proof of her physician’s license. In fact, she should insist upon it.
2. She has the right – to know the medical malpractice history of the physician and to know whether his or her license to practice medicine has ever been suspended or revoked.
In 2011, Dr. Kermit Barron Gosnell, who ran the Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic in Philadelphia, PA, was charged with 8 counts of murder, 24 felony counts of performing illegal abortions beyond the state of Pennsylvania’s 24 week time limit, and 227 misdemeanor counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. After an adult patient, Karnamaya Mongar, died following an abortion procedure, an investigation was sparked into the practice of a clinic that had not one licensed physician on staff. It is a woman’s right to know whether her physician is licensed to perform abortions – her life depends upon it.
3. She has the right – to know if this doctor has an insurance policy that will protect she and her family in case she is injured or killed during the procedure.
Most abortion clinics are independent from hospitals, running as small operations offering women a specialized service. No clinic is automatically insured… requesting to know that the clinic is currently insured during and following your abortion is every woman’s right. Do not sign anything that says you or your family will waive the right to sue the clinic should you be injured or killed during the abortion.
4. She has the right – to insist that if she is injured during her abortion, she is to be immediately transferred by ambulance to the nearest emergency hospital or trauma center.
46,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, complications from unsafe abortions in the developing world contribute to 47,000 preventable deaths each year.2 The World Health Organization reports that deaths due to unsafe abortion remain close to 13% of all maternal deaths. 3
5. She has the right – not to have an abortion.
The Patient Bill of rights continues “Regardless of your age, marital status or any other factor, no one has the legal right to make you have an abortion.” Making an informed decision about abortion means you need to know more than just your right to choose to have an abortion; it means you need to know your right to choose not to have an abortion.
- Guttmacher Institute. (n.d.). Facts and Consequences: Legality, Incidence and Safety of Abortion Worldwide. Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/12/4/gpr120402.html ↩
- Guttmacher Institute. (n.d.). Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide. Retrieved from http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html ↩
- WHO | Preventing unsafe abortion. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/magnitude/en/ ↩