Opinion/Letter: Harm involves many concepts


A Nov. 8 editorial references the Cavalier Daily where UVa doctors present information identifying how maternal death rates from illegal abortions compared to death rates from legal abortions, miscarriages, and routine deliveries. Doctors emphasize the importance of minimizing the number of pregnancy-related deaths of women and, in doing so, appeal to the principle of the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm”.

While the issue of abortion is a binary choice (to have an abortion or not), many ideologies inform the base of the individual decision. An open dialogue includes issues such as a woman’s psychological state before birth as well as after childbirth or abortion; the increased risk of premature birth after an abortion; the blessing of forming a new life; the challenges of raising a family in today’s world; the joy of successful contributions and the celebration of a life well lived; the use of contraception which may lead to the expulsion of the embryo; the dreams of childless couples wishing to adopt (nationally or internationally); the risks, benefits and costs of artificial reproduction. As we consider these important questions, it becomes clear that most of us really want to do no harm.

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Plus, we have to consider when life begins — something the Supreme Court was unable to pinpoint in “Roe.” Clearly, our society values ​​unborn life; examine how a community reacts when a pregnant woman dies before giving birth; consider the tremendous medical effort that goes into keeping a seriously injured pregnant woman alive so that the child can be born safely.

The authors of the founding documents of our country identify the notions of “life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness”. The opportunity to have the right to choose (freedom) depends entirely on the blessing, privilege and joy of having a life to live.

Ferdinand D. Yates, Jr. MD MA (Bioethics)


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