Recently, newspapers carried the following exchange between a reader and a widely-read medical advice columnist, Dr. X (his real name is not important here, and a wave of letters reprimanding him would be counterproductive):

DEAR DR. X: I am responding to your column about counseling for a woman who continued to feel guilty about an abortion she had 20 years ago. Planned Parenthood is not an appropriate resource. These people are probably the ones who convinced her to have an abortion in the first place! Your reader should probably more properly receive treatment from a church-supported pregnancy counseling center.

DEAR READER: From the tone of the letter to which I responded, I believed that anti-abortion counseling was not what the reader needed. So I referred her to a more eclectic resource.

Personally, I feel that adoption is preferable to abortion, but I support a woman's choice in the matter. And I agree with you (and other readers) that alternative organizations can certainly play a vital role in helping such people deal with the emotional upheaval of abortion. Such help is available through many community institutions.

Dr. X's response is typical of the well-meaning "mushy middle" in the age of "choice." I'm sure that Dr. X wants only the best for the people seeking advice from him. And I'm equally sure that Dr. X is a very competent physician. Yet when it comes to the topic of abortion, he appears to be pressured to conform to the foggy thinking that the culture of "choice" demands of the "enlightened" among us. The point here is not to berate Dr. X personally but to illustrate the intellectual and moral confusion that results from the uncritical acceptance of "choice."

Dr. X thought it unwise for the woman to receive "anti-abortion counseling." Well, yes, 20 years after the abortion it is, of course, rather late for the "anti" part of abortion counseling. Dr. X uses the media's code word "anti-abortion" instead of the more descriptive term "pro-life." But pro-life counseling does have something to offer to women who suffer from the devastating guilt over an abortion. The pro-life movement has been joined and energized by thousands of women who have had abortions, have experienced the emotional upheaval and guilt over their abortions, and have found spiritual healing and forgiveness. These pro-lifers understand the problem, and they can gently direct women suffering from the aftermath of abortion to churches and support groups that will help them.

That Dr. X thinks that Planned Parenthood is an appropriate counseling agency for the woman in question is rather odd. Instead of following the elitist mainstream where one only thinks nice things of Planned Parenthood, Dr. X would have been better off applying the same kind of independent thinking that he usually displays when he discusses the usual medical matters for his readers' benefit.

First of all, abortion clinics are notorious for denying that there are any negative long-term reactions to induced abortions. Planned Parenthood runs the nation's largest chain of such clinics, and has probably been the most vocal propagandist on that point. If Dr. X had paid attention to the abortion debate over the last three decades, he would know that. What purpose would it serve to send this woman to an organization that insists, against all evidence, that her problem doesn't exist?

Second, Dr. X himself speaks of the "emotional upheaval of abortion." Again, if Dr. X were to familiarize himself with the business of Planned Parenthood, he would find that this organization is neither interested nor capable of dealing with the "emotional upheaval of abortion." Planned Parenthood is deep into providing abortions and not into dealing with emotional upheavals caused by the abortions from which it profits.

And finally, Dr. X thinks that Planned Parenthood is "a more eclectic resource." In this context, "eclectic" means "selecting one's beliefs from various sources, without attachment to any particular school of thought." Apparently, as Dr. X sees it, "anti-abortion" people are way out there on the fringes and Planned Parenthood is sort of in the neutral middle, eclectically balancing various positions. It looks like Dr. X has fallen victim to decades of Planned Parenthood salesmanship. If Dr. X would look at Planned Parenthood with the same critical eye that he casts on questionable medical practices, he would see this: A report published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research affiliate, states that there were 1,313,000 abortions in 2000 (L. B. Finer & S. K. Henshaw, "Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States in 2000," Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 35(1): 6-15). According to its own reports, Planned Parenthood performed 197,070 or 15% of these 1.3 million abortions in 2000. In 2001, Planned Parenthood performed 213,027 abortions (16% of the total if the overall number of abortions remained the same in 2001). In other words, Planned Parenthood runs by far the largest chain of abortion clinics in the country--some "eclectic resource."

Planned Parenthood is at the extreme end of the spectrum not only in the number of abortions it performs, but also in the ideological stances it has taken on abortion. Together with NARAL, Planned Parenthood is the foremost promoter of abortion on demand. Both organizations vocally and forcefully oppose any restriction on the abhorrent practice of partial-birth abortions, any legislation providing women with accurate information before they agree to the irrevocable act of having an abortion, any legislation prohibiting the transport of minors across state lines for an abortion without the girl's parents' knowledge, any law punishing the death of an unborn child resulting from a criminal attack on a pregnant woman, and so on. These are not the stances of an "eclectic resource"--these are stances of the largest provider of the "emotional upheaval of abortion" in the country.

Dr. X obviously doesn't like abortion. As a physician he knows what happens in an abortion. So, quite sensibly, he prefers adoption. Now, he needs to join us in opposing the "choice" that kills.