2 Medical Experiences: So What's the Difference?

Bruce Colman and Ashlie Stevenson have had medical operations. They both remember their experiences. Both have chosen to share their experiences with us. For Bruce, the experience was far from joyful but he was prepared for the experience. Ashlie’s experience was also negative, especially in light of a lack of information about her procedures.

So, are there any real intrinsic differences between the experiences of both people? Peter Barnes explains …

My Hernia Experience - Bruce Coleman

The visit to the specialist was nothing out of the ordinary – over 40,000 people visit a specialist each year in relation to a hernia problem. For such an ordinary event the information provided for the patient is extraordinary. I was given 4 glossy A4 pages of information describing what a hernia looks like as well as providing every detail of the laparoscopic procedure and post operative care. The brochure also provided an extensive and almost daunting list of the possible consequences of the procedure. When I read the list I became apprehensive at continuing with this operation. However, no-one could argue that I wasn’t fully informed. I had never been in this situation before and it was heartening to know that hundreds of thousands had gone before and survived without any adverse consequences. It was reassuring to know all the details before the operation!

My Abortion Experiences - Ashlie Stevenson

I have had three abortions. Visits to the doctor in order to obtain an abortion are by no means uncommon. Millions of women world-wide seek abortions every year. For such a common event, however, the information provided is practically nil. The only information I was given concerned a few practical details about the procedure - and that was given verbally. No details were provided about the baby, or of its demise, or of possible consequences. No postoperative care was provided. I was apprehensive about the third abortion because it was to be done only under local anaesthetic. It turned out to be a very ugly experience. It was not until years later that I mourned for my little ones, and felt the overwhelming sin or guilt over what I had done. God was there, then, to bless me with forgiveness and peace.

Why the Difference? - Peter Barnes

 The contrast between these two accounts is both obvious and common. There is a marked reluctance on the part of society in general to face the reality of abortion. We think that we are open and honest in dealing with medical matters, but the fact is that it is rare for any woman inquiring about a possible abortion to receive adequate and accurate medical, physiological, and psychological information about abortion and its consequences. Sometimes silence is golden, and sometimes it is just yellow.


See also Peter's Book Review: A comparison of Melinda Tankard Reist, Giving Sorrow Words, (Sydney: Duffy and Snellgrove, 2000) with Jo Wainer (ed), Lost: Illegal Abortion Stories, (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2006).