Lotti Helström


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    Ethics and abortion


    Lotti Helström, MD, Karolinska University Hospital , Stockholm


    This lecture discusses attitudes towards induced abortion, held by members of medical staff involved. Most people have a morally and ethically defined opinion about induced abortions. Women in general, often regard induced abortions as something that other women may have. Should they, themselves consider induced abortion, it would be as an exception. Members of medical staff often express that induced abortions are requested by a special and “careless” kind of woman. Among members of medical staff, the free choice of induced abortions is often defended only by alternative dangerous, unsafe abortions, that women otherwise would expose themselves to. Such an attitude may reflect an attempt to avoid confrontation with the fact that induced abortions actually involve that the foetus is killed. The attitude helps the medical staff not to confront the eventual “moral advantage” of the anti-abortionists, who claim that they defend life. Members of medical staff need to carefully reflect on their own attitudes towards killing a foetus and also towards women who request abortions. It must be appreciated that the women who chose induced abortion, in fact are the same kind of woman as those who decide to carry out their pregnancies. With a reflective view, medical staff also has the best tool to help and advise a woman to avoid future abortions.

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    Should ultrasound be shown to the woman?
    Lotti Helström, MD, PhD, Department of Women’s Health, Stockholm South Hospital,
    There is an ongoing discussion whether to show the ultrasound screen or picture to the
    woman and/or her male partner at the pre abortion medical examination or not. It has been
    clamed that the picture might influence her in her decision and force her to feel guilt or
    shame of her wish to terminate her pregnancy. On the other hand the picture might help
    her to realize and clearly view her situation and thus help to the right choice. There is a
    point in regarding the woman as the only individual able to make the right choice and see
    the medical staff only as her servants, serving her with the information that she needs for
    making the complex decision about how to realize her maternity in this specific situation.
    Hers is the choice, to see or not, and to choose the information necessary.