Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some Dishonest Advice

The immoralities that I have condemned in the past two days showed up in the headlines again this morning, this time relating to the issue of abortion. Apparently, a number of pregnancy counseling centers that receive federal funding have been giving out false information about the risks of abortion. In this way, they have sought to prevent people from making fully informed decisions regarding their own health choices – attempting instead to manipulate them into doing what these counselors wanted them to do.

Two days ago I illustrated my point with a story about of a group of people caught in a fire. In this story I had a priest give those trapped in the building misleading information in order to manipulate them into taking a more dangerous route out of the building so they would not tread on sacred ground.

The people who work in these pregnancy resource centers are doing the same thing as that priest – giving people false and misleading information to manipulate them into choosing a more dangerous route that does not tread on their sacred ground. In this case, they give false and misleading information about the dangers of abortion.

For some reason these people are not willing to respect their clients enough to tell them the truth. These people have decided to lie to and manipulate those who come to them for help.

This form of deception can be described as a form of tyranny.

If I wanted to deprive you of the freedom to make your own choices – to bend your choices to my will rather than leave you free to exercise your own will – I could do so by using threats of violence. I could say, "Do as I will you to do, or I will have Bubba here do things to you that you will surely not like.” I might have my thugs visit you at your homes some night and break both of your legs, or haul you off to prison to face some very unpleasant 'questioning', or I may take away your livelihood so that you cannot find work, pay your bills, and feed your family.

However, if I wanted to bend your choices to my will, I do not have to break your legs. Indeed, I do not even want to break your legs. I want you to obey my commands. So, what I am seeking is to make you believe that your legs will be broken if you do not obey me. If I can cause you to believe this, even if it is not true, then I have chained you to my will just as effectively.

Note that these two situations are entirely different from the situation that exists if I warn you about a true cause and effect. If I tell you, "You will likely break your legs if you complete that action (e.g., jump out of a third-floor window onto concrete),” I am not attempting to bend your will to my own. I might not even care if you break your legs in this circumstance. I am simply giving you information that you can use to make a fully informed choice. I will leave it up to you to decide if your action is worth the possibility of breaking your legs. It may well be if, for example, the building were on fire and you would burn alive if you did not jump.

I am not morally responsible for the interaction between your legs and the concrete – that interaction will be what it is regardless of my actions. I am, however, responsible for your broken legs if I send Bubba out with a baseball bat to break them. I am also responsible for your false belief that displeasing me will result in your legs being broken if I feed you that false belief as a way of controlling your actions. In both of these cases, I act so as to manipulate your actions. When I do that, I am denying you your freedom and making you a servant of my will.

In the case of the pregnancy resource centers, they are doing exactly the same thing when they threaten that their clients will suffer an increased risk of breast cancer or emotional problems if they have an abortion. Instead of saying, “If you do not obey me then your legs will be broken,” these deceitful individuals are saying, “If you do not obey me then you will get breast cancer and suffer emotional trauma.” If these claims are true, then their statements are like those of the person warning another of the hazards of jumping. If their statements are false, then their statements are like those of the thug threatening harm in order to bend another person to their will.

This news article specifically concerns people who get government funds to use in an operation that operates on the same moral level as a family of gangsters. The operation that they are funding threatens harm to those who disobey the wishes of those who run the pregnancy resource center – harms in the form of breast cancer and emotional trauma that research says does not exist.

These pregnancy resource center workers are acting like the priest in my story of two days ago, using false claims to manipulate those caught in a hazardous situation into taking a more dangerous route so that they will not walk across the priest’s holy ground.

Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that we do not teach people how to make intelligent decisions.

One of the things that caught my attention in this article was a statement about Molly Ford from Care Net, one of the organizations receiving federal funds and passing out false information. The article reports:

But Ford said that pregnancy center counselors don't need statistics to tell them that many women undergoing an abortion experience severe emotional trauma.

Recall that yesterday I wrote about a person considering several types of treatment for an illness. Treatment options included “No treatment” where 90% of the people died, and “Treatment E” where 97% of the people died.

Now, somebody in Molly Ford’s position who has the job of trying to sell Treatment E could honestly say, “We don’t need statistics to tell us that many people who use Treatment E are cured.” Indeed, if their treatment center treats 1000 people, then they will know of 30 people who are cured. However, they are still morally reprehensible for their decision to sell Treatment E – since, if those same 1000 people would have done nothing, 100 of them would have likely survived, instead of 30. In spite of the fact that this agency knows of 30 survivors, statistics show us that, in fact, they killed 70 people.

Ford’s moral culpability is made much worse by the fact that these people offer a consulting service. People are supposed to come to them for advice. People are coming to them to get help in making an intelligent decision. Molly Ford’s comments above show that the people at Care Net are professionally incompetent when it comes to making intelligent decision. Any organization that uses decision-making procedures that could have them recommending Treatment E over no treatment at all does not have the professional competence to advise others on how to make intelligent decisions.

For the government to be paying these people to help others make decisions is as bad as the government paying engineers who could not pass a basic math class.

The principles that I have used so far lead to one more conclusion that I would like to mention.

I have spoken about how it is fundamentally immoral to say to people, “Do what I tell you to do or Bubba here with the baseball bat will have to break your legs.” This is a gangster mentality, and gangsters are very far from the paradigms of virtue.

But, let’s just pretend that we have a person with a gangster mentality. This gangster, however, is a bit dissatisfied with Bubba’s limits. Some of the people he wants to control think that they can take Bubba out. Bubba has its limits. So, instead of using Bubba as an enforcer, our gangster decides to tell the people that he has an omniscient, omnipotent, invisible Bubba who does not simply break legs. This super-Bubba has the power to make anybody who disobeys this gangster suffer forever in an afterlife.

This would make a sweet situation that anybody with a gangster mentality would drool over.

If only it were possible to convince people that an omniscient, omnipotent, invisible Bubba with the power to make people suffer forever in an afterlife actually exists.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the best thought out and most interesting discussions on the topic of 'biased' counselling I’ve read in quite some time. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, none of the Congressional reports, or the latest media coverage, have made mention of the substantial scientific studies that support the possibility for increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, and emotional trauma among women who undergo one or more abortions. These reports do not mention that numerous states including Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Minnesota, and Montana have passed legislation mandating that abortion providers notify a woman of the increased risk for breast cancer, emotional trauma, and miscarriages that can result from induced abortion. Additionally, little attention has been given to a 1994 report by the National Cancer Institute citing that "Among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50% higher than among other women" ("Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women: Relationship to Induced Abortion," Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 86, #21). This report has since been removed from their website.

The Abortion-Breast Cancer (ABC) Link

The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link by Angela Lanfranchi, MD, FACS

Medical Groups that currently recognize the ABC Link

National Physicians Center for Family Resources
Breast Cancer Prevention Institute
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
The Polycarp Research Institute
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Ethics and Medics
Mastercare International
Breast Care Center-EAMC

States that require abortion providers to inform women of the ABC link

(This list is not exclusive as Informed Consent laws are passed and amended each year...click here to read legislative summary of informed consent laws)

Kansas (KS Dept. of Health, If You Are Pregnant)
Louisiana (La. Dept. of Health, Abortion: Making a Decision)
Mississippi (Miss. Dept. of Health, Informed Consent Information & Resources)
Texas (Click Here to Read Text of Legislation)

Post Abortion Stress Syndrome

David C. Reardon, Ph.D., director of the Elliot Institute, is widely recognized as one of the leading experts on the after-effects of abortion on women, a field in which he has specialized since 1983. He is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles on this topic. Research Elliot Institute studies on the psychological aftermath of abortion: http://www.afterabortion.org/

"Uninformed Consent: Abortion and Mental Health Consequences" by Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D. "Recent research from Norway and New Zealand has reported an association between abortion and subsequent mental health problems.

Reproductive Health and Infertility

Another Abortion Risk: Preterm Birth by Dr. Byron Calhoun, MD, FACOG, FACS, MBA

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania suggests that abortion can, though rarely, result in infertility. http://www.ppsp.org/askbeth/archives/abortion_and_fertility.asp


Texas Informed Consent Legislation recognizes possible link between abortion and infertility...click here to read the text.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


I have argued repeatedly in this blog that intellectual recklessness that results in risk to the life, health, and well-being of others is a moral crime on par with drunk driving.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute held a special session specifically to determine the effects of abortion on breast cancer. 100 experts were involved in this intense review of the literature. Their findings were that there is no relationship between abortion and breast cancer.

Note that the study you cite on "The Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women" was a 1994 study which was included in the USNCI report of 2003, along with additional research that had been done in the intervening 9 years.

Leave it to a dogmatist to hear of one study that supports his desired conclusion and call it "proof", when 100 experts in the field weigh that one study againts all of the other evidence accumulated over the next 9 years and reach a different conclusion.

The fact that several state legislatures have passed laws or resolutions denying this fact only proves that state legislatures can be tricked or pressured by organizations that have no respect for the truth and are willing to engage in intellectual recklessness that threaten the lives of others -- just as you have done here.

The use of organizations with great-sounding names that exist for the purpose of pushing deception and intellectually reckless practices on an unwary public has long been a staple of the public relations business since humans first discovered the how to lie.

Reference: The American Cancer Society: Abortion and Breast Cancer.

Anonymous said...


The NCI "consensus" panel is the one study that critics are relying on to disprove the abortion-breast cancer link that was common knowledge based on five decades of research.

I would encourage you to read the article at the above link by Dr. Joel Brind, who was the dissenting voice on that panel. Review his logic and then judge for yourself. There are also studies coming out of New Zealand, Japan, and elsewhere that support the link. In fact 27 our of 38 worldwide studies indicate the link between abortion and breast cancer.

Also, pregnancy centers don't charge for any of there services, they are completely free and confidential, unlike abortions which cost $300 to $1500 a pop, based on the baby's stage of development. So again the real question is, who really benefits from lying to women?

Let me remind us all of the days when big tobacco was still trying to convince people that smoking doesn't cause cancer. It took a long time and a lot of fringe groups pushing fringe science to finally get those labels on the box. People deserve to know the possible risks of any surgery they undergo, however rare the doctors may believe that risk is.

Why are many states now mandating that abortion providers tell women about the abortion-breast cancer link if it is supposedly settled-science?

We are doing the next generation a great disservice by trying to label sides to protect something like abortion. If there is any indication that it could cause breast cancer that needs to be studied in depth and if people still want abortion to be legal than they need to be researching ways to keep the lobules that develop in woman's breast from becoming host environments for cancer cells.

This isn't about a political agenda, this is about women's health...actually know this is about an $880 million industry that sells a service and is willing to lie to protect it...and I think we both know that I'm not talking about non-profit pregnancy resource centers.

Anonymous said...

I apologies in advance for the length of my comment, and for straying off topic. I feel I must answerer the above reader.


Both abortion and breast cancer are exclusively women issues. Men, regardless of their position on abortion, have nowhere nearly as much interest in the truth of studies such as this as women do. Allow me to give you a woman's point of view on this most difficult dilemma.

To any woman breast and cervical cancer are dreaded conditions. No man would ever be able to really understand them, just as no woman would be able to really understand testicular or prostate cancer.

Critics of legal abortion are called pro life, as if the other side is somehow pro death. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women do not consider abortion lightly. To any woman an abortion is not a convenient way of ending an inconvenient situation. It is a dreadful option used as a very last resort in extremely difficult situations.

Perhaps she accidentally got pregnant in the beginning stage of menopause, and is fearing for her health and life, or the wellbeing of the child if she dose not live?
Perhaps the fetus was diagnosed with severe defects?
Perhaps her pregnancy is a result of rape?
Only a small number of abortions is performed on adolescent girls. ( BTW The problem of accidental, unwanted pregnancies can easily be solved by widespread availability of condoms.)

Either way, the question of weather or not to go through that ordeal (and I agree on the emotional trauma of the procedure) is difficult and complicated enough as it is. Please do not complicate the mater more by questioning the validity of scientific research regarding future women health. To use the most dreaded illness as an uncertain side effect to one option of an already no-win situation is only comparable to adding insult to injury.

Also I find your connection with tobacco companies lacking. Tobacco companies lie because they live on other people's addiction. Gynecologists earn their livelihood by caring for the health of women.

A lot of them refuse to perform abortions for reasons of faith or conscience. (Yes, some people have conscience even if they lack faith) Those that perform abortions are not profiting on it, they are not eager killers. They only do so because they know that a woman who has chosen abortion will go through it, one way or another. An illegal abortion would not only end the life of the fetus, but also endanger the health and life of women. Thus they chose the lesser of to evils.

I would like you to ask yourself just one thing. Are you supporting these findings because they rationalize your evaluation of abortion or because you have genuine concern for the well being of the women in your life?

If you are genuinely concerned with women health please support sex-ed other than abstinence only. Support compulsory HPV inoculations and availability of condoms.
And above all support honesty in scientific research.

I thank you in advance.