Ethically Challenged Bioethicist Whines About Kentucky Abortion Law
Ethically Challenged Bioethicist Whines About Kentucky Abortion Law
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   12.17.19

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Bioethicist Ruth Faden penned an irony-filled screed in which she whines about the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a challenge to Kentucky’s Ultrasound Informed Consent Act (H.B. 2), which requires that prior to the killing of humans in the womb, a doctor or technician must perform an ultrasound and explain to mothers gestators what the ultrasound shows:

H.B. 2 directs a doctor, prior to performing an abortion, to perform an ultrasound; display the ultrasound images for the patient; and explain, in the doctor’s own words, what is being depicted by the images—for example, pointing out organs and whether the patient is pregnant with twins. … There is no requirement that the patient view the images or listen to the doctor’s description. The doctor also must auscultate the fetal heartbeat but may turn off the volume of the auscultation if the patient so requests.

In Faden’s view, the Supreme Court’s decision “leaves a dangerous law on the books, one that endangers not only women’s rights but also medical ethics.” While women do not now, nor ever have had a moral right to order the killings of their offspring, tragically, they do yet have a legal “right” to do so. H.B. 2 poses no danger to that legal right. All H.B. 2 does is perhaps in some cases diminish the danger posed to humans in wombs by their mothers’ pernicious legal right to have their children killed.

Faden disingenuously argues that “A woman who is terminating a wanted pregnancy due to a lethal fetal anomaly may suffer deeply from being forced to view and study the features of her fetus.” Surely Faden knows that the law does not force women to “study the features” of their babies and that few women can make heads or tails out of a sonogram. How many of those women who freely choose to view their sonogram will be able to discern in the grainy photos a fetal anomaly?

Astonishingly, Faden refers to a mandatory sonogram as a “grotesque ritual”:

They have to perform this grotesque ritual in every case — regardless of the patient’s wishes and the doctor’s assessment of whether it is appropriate. It must be read even when a patient has become pregnant through rape and in cases where there is a diagnosis of fetal anomaly that is incompatible with life.

Faden’s use of “grotesque” to describe a sonogram performed before a tiny, vulnerable human is ripped limb from limb, or had her skinned chemically burned, or had her heart injected with digoxin, or had her skull crushed and brains sucked out is incomprehensibly grotesque and inhuman. Not even a human with fetal anomalies or whose biological father was a rapist would deserve such a grotesque, inhuman fate.

Faden claims that H.B. 2 endangers “medical ethics”:

Medical ethics require that physicians treat the patient as an individual, and the value of viewing images will necessarily vary from patient to patient, and from decision to decision.

Evidently Faden has forgotten that physicians who treat pregnant women say they have two patients: the mother and the human growing in her womb. That small patient does not become less an individual because other humans devalue her or him. While the feelings of women about viewing images of their offspring may vary from patient to patient, the value of doing so does not.

Faden frets that “mandated speech” that provides factual information to women about the bodies of their babies is disrespectful, distressing, and harmful. Faden frets not at all about the disrespectful, distressing, and “harmful” nature of the bodily destruction of those tiny humans who, if left unmolested, will magically become persons.

Part of the reason this law is necessary is that feticide supporters manipulate language to deceive women. Their chief rhetorical stratagem is to use language to conceal the true nature of the execrable “choice” they want to remain legal. In other words, feticide-supporters work like the devil to conceal that the “choice” they pursue with unholy vigor is the choice to have doctors kill humans. To bring about that end, feticidal maniacs have to convince women that the product of conception between two humans is not a human person. As any science-loving person knows, that is a tall order.

For decades they pursued that repellent end by claiming that the product of conception between two humans was a blob of tissue not so different from a tumor. Advances in science and technology (e.g., genetics and sonography) exposed that lie, so the conscience-free killing-choicers started thunk thunk thunking like they’d never thunk before. They had to find a rhetorical device for thinking humans out of existence, and they succeeded—well, kinda.

They now admit that the product of conception between two humans is a human, but—unlike Ruth Faden—it’s not a person. Newspeak wins; babies tiny humans lose.

According to Faden, “Proponents of the law … have said that it is based on ‘the commonsense notion that patients should be well equipped with relevant information before making important medical decisions.’” In countering this assertion from H.B. 2 proponents, Faden’s lousy (or devious) grammar confuses the issue. She wrote,

Those are important values, central to moral requirements of informed consent, but this law does nothing to advance them.

When Faden uses the demonstrative plural pronoun, “those” in “those are important values,” and the plural pronoun “them” in the phrase “the law does nothing to advance them” to what exactly is she referring? Is she referring to the singular “commonsense notion that patients should be well equipped with relevant information”? If so, that so-called “value” is foundational to informed consent.

Faden then asked this head-scratcher:

We know the information contained in the ultrasound is not essential to informed consent — if it were, why would the law permit patients to close their eyes and block their ears?

Well, now she’s just getting silly. How would the law prevent a woman from closing her eyes and blocking her ears? Is Faden actually positing that the absence of a section in the law mandating that eyes be pried open is proof that factual information about the nature of the “thing” being killed is non-essential?

Faden apparently believes the critical factor in determining what information must be included to ensure informed consent are the feelings of patients about information rather than the content of the information itself:

To offer information that may assist patients in making medical decisions in alignment with their values, beliefs and interests is the essence of the ethical practice of medicine. To force information on unwilling patients is precisely the opposite.

Faden is saying that if some information is undesirable to a patient, then providing it transmogrifies into “forcing” it. In Faden’s bizarre looking glass world, the feelings of patients about information determine medical ethics.

Faden is correct when she says that “Informed consent does not require that every patient be shown medical images in advance of a treatment decision.” But such a statement merely illuminates the limitations of analogies that compare abortion to other surgical procedures. Unlike surgery to remove a tumor or replace a joint, however, abortion involves the direct killing of a human—something that even feticide fans acknowledge. Because the moral gravity of ending the life of another human being and because of the cunning deceit of feticide fans, it is incumbent on the medical community to ensure that women fully grasp what their abortions will do.

Feticide supporters assert that while a fetus is a human, it is not a person, but they can’t provide definitive proof for such a claim. Nor can they provide definitive proof for when a human becomes a person. One would expect more humility from those with such paltry evidence for a claim of such potentially monumental moral implications.

Absent such proof and in light of the moral gravity of taking the life of innocent humans, it seems odd that killing-choicers wouldn’t want to ensure that every woman is fully informed about the developmental status of the human she seeks to have killed. Wouldn’t compassionate people want to do everything within their power to reduce the likelihood that any woman would experience the soul-shattering grief and guilt so many women experience after an abortion?

Listen to this article read by Laurie:

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Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High School’s writing center in Deerfield, Illinois. Her cultural commentaries have been carried on a number of pro-family websites nationally and internationally, and Laurie has appeared on numerous radio programs across the country. In addition, Laurie has spoken at the Council for National Policy and educational conferences sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition. She has been married to her husband for forty-four years, and they have four grown children...
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