I recently decided to have a colonoscopy.  I’m at that age, saw enough commercials warning me about what could happen if I didn’t get one, so I figured it was time to do it.  I ran to Google and started looking for a doctor in my area who did the procedure.  Got the phone number and called for an appointment.

Ten days later, I was in the doctor’s office.  I filled out my medical history (since I was a new patient), was handed a bunch of brochures and escorted into a small room, you know, the kind that has Time Magazines from 1985 and a article haphazardly taped onto the bare white wall.  Then, the doctor barges into the room, holding a clipboard, introduces himself and then, without making eye contact, proceeds to tell me about the procedure.  As I start to doze off, he suddenly leaps up and tells me he wants me to now look at a DVD about colonoscopys.  How exciting! 

I make it through the fifteen minute movie and he comes back in and asks if I have any questions. 

“Nope,” I reply. 

“Okay, then,” he says, “let’s get you scheduled for the procedure.”  

Two weeks later, I have the colonoscopy and everything looks good. 

That process sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?   I mean, whether the surgery is necessary or elective, you always go to the facility first for a consultation, to do the paperwork, etc.  Normally, it’s a rather short visit.  Sure, it’s inconvenient to have to take time off from work, but that’s just the way it is. 

Supporters of legal abortion are proud to say that it is the most common surgical procedure a woman will ever have.  I assume that is correct.  But if abortion is so “common,” then why do pro-choicers oppose the imposition of a 24 hour waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion?  Such laws have been proposed in numerous state legislatures and the pro-choice groups always object. 

Imposing a 24 hour waiting period would mean that the woman would go to the clinic for the initial consult, just like I did with my colonoscopy, then she would come back the next day or next week and have her surgery, just like I did.  Currently, however, a pregnant woman who wants an abortion just calls the clinic and sets up the appointment.  She goes to the clinic and everything is packed into those few hours. 

Now, I get that in some states a woman has to travel hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion and that if she were forced to wait 24 hours after her initial visit, it would mean having to stay overnight at a hotel or a friend’s house.  But don’t some people have to do the same when they need some very specialized form of surgery (e.g., if they have to fly to the Mayo Clinic)? 

I also understand how it is insulting to women when pro-lifers say they need to think about the abortion a little more, as if they hadn’t thought about it already.  That is demeaning.   And I know that they’re ultimate goal is to just make it more difficult to get an abortion.   

But putting aside the political angle and speaking from a purely medical point of view, is it really good medicine to let a woman come straight to the clinic and have surgery?    Is it not possible that it might be easier on a woman if she came into the clinic one day, saw the office (remember, many people have very negative images of the inside of abortion clinics), talked about the (emotionally difficult) procedure and then come back soon thereafter?   Is it not possible that she could be a better patient, one that is not so full of anxiety? 

Somebody out there help me sort this one out!