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Do You Abort a Baby Twice?
By Noah Evslin, Medical Researcher
If you watch our show closely, you understand it's not the medical treatments that make Private Practice different than other shows on television; rather, it's the ethical debates our doctors have over any of the myriad decisions they need to make each week.
In this week's Episode 421, "God Bless the Child," Addison's patient PATTY is surprised to discover her first abortion failed to terminate her pregnancy and she's now in her second trimester trying to figure out her options. This puts Addison and Naomi on opposite sides of the following dilemma:
Do you advise a woman to abort a late-term fetus for the second time, after the first attempt was met with failure?
In the United States, failure rates for in-clinic abortion are extremely low. Less than .1% of all surgical abortions end in failure. This is opposed to non-surgical abortions like the day-after pill which have a significantly higher rate of failure. Some put this number as high as 8%.
With over 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States every year, slightly less than a thousand babies survive the surgical form of abortion.
Regardless of how many or how few abortions end in failure, it's still a gigantic shock for these thousand mothers a year who have already gone through the procedure to discover there's still a child growing inside them.
This is the problem that Addison and Naomi face with the distraught Patty who came into their practice seeking advice on a second abortion. Naomi's dead set against it. She calls these abortions "partial-birth abortions", which is normally used to rally political supporters, as opposed to being a term used in the medical world. Addison doesn't like the idea of doing an abortion at nineteen weeks, as it's a much more involved procedure, but ultimately thinks a woman should have the right to choose what she wants to do. Naomi appeals to Fife who agrees with Addison. In his mind and in the mind of the Supreme Court, the right of the termination belongs to the mother.
In the end, Patty decides to have the second abortion, as can't afford to have a child right now, nor is the mentally prepared to be a mother—and it's Addison who agrees to do the procedure.
Was Naomi right to be so adamantly against this kind of abortion? Was Addison correct in doing a contentious procedure she had some qualms about performing?
What would YOU do?