The Post article chronicles her experiences as a medical student and the interplay of her pro-abortion views and her actual experiences assisting doctors perform abortions.
The article reveals her post-modern thinking on truth (We really can't know it.) and the reality of actually seeing an abortion and her belief she couldn't go through with being an abortionist.
Her mindset -- what's true for you maybe not be true for someone else -- is classic moral relativism; morality is like having a preference for vanilla or chocolate ice cream. And we can't really know what's true is postmodernism.
At the lunchtime discussion, Lesley was surrounded by people opposed to abortion. A pediatrician from Johns Hopkins was discussing her practice of refusing to prescribe birth control pills to adolescents because she is morally opposed to it.
Hearing the doctor made Lesley wince. She herself had spent many hours teaching teens about contraceptives. She had won an Albert Schweitzer fellowship to develop a health education program at Mountain Manor, a residential treatment facility for teens in Baltimore, that addressed sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, abortion and adoption. She'd shown the girls at Mountain Manor how to use a condom and urged them to carry condoms with them.
She couldn't imagine refusing to prescribe birth control pills to girls who were sexually active. "Just keep your mouth shut," Lesley said she told herself. "Don't say anything." She knew she wasn't going to change minds.
But later, before she left, she did ask the doctor one question: "How do you advise patients without appearing judgmental?"
The answer -- that appearing judgmental wasn't the doctor's concern, only doing what she felt was right for patients -- made Lesley realize that "there are people who wholeheartedly believe they are doing their patients good" by not mentioning abortion or prescribing birth control pills. She found that problematic. "You can't assume what is right for you is right for the patient," she decided.
This led her to ask herself another question: When is it appropriate to interject our judgment, and when isn't it? Nobody really knows, she concluded. Not Medical Students for Choice, not the Catholic students, not the medical school. But they were important questions to explore, she told Litty later. Litty agreed.
If we can't know the truth, then how can we say the holocaust was wrong and evil? Or was Stalin's murder of millions wrong if done for the greater "good" of the state? This is why postmodernism and moral relativism are so dangerous to a society and culture.
Another abortion patient she encountered highlights the person who will cavalierly destroy unborn life within her if that life is viewed as an obstacle to getting what she wants in life.
A third patient, a 23-year-old college student wearing red high heels, had become pregnant because the patch she used as birth control kept falling off. She didn't realize she was pregnant at first. Now she needed a second-term abortion. Lesley was struck by how resolute the young woman was. She was earning a degree, and said she couldn't care for a child if she wanted to achieve her goal. She was scheduled for the procedure for the following morning.
Lesley decides she doesn't want to be an abortionist, because she didn't want to be "[v]acuuming out a uterus and counting the parts of the fetus," but she's still glad she did it.
One can see her shutting off her conscience but not completely. Though she's still "proud" of her pro-abortion activism, she doesn't want to perform them.
As for obstetrics, the once-perfect mix of medical, surgical and preventive care for women, Lesley hadn't loved very much about it. Even as she'd shadowed the abortion doctor, Lesley knew in her heart that this would not be the right place for her to make a difference. It was a big disappointment, she said. "I really thought I'd love it."
The things she cared about -- taking care of women, seeing them through the process -- hadn't happened. It was the nurse practitioner who cared for the patient. Vacuuming out a uterus and counting the parts of the fetus did not seem like a desirable way to spend her work days. It took a unique person to do that on a daily basis, she said.
Lesley still believed passionately in abortion rights and was proud of what she'd accomplished at Maryland with her activism. She didn't want to let people down. Even so, she had to follow her heart. Somebody else -- maybe Laura Merkel, the new chapter president of Medical Students for Choice -- would become an abortion provider. But it wouldn't be her.
I think as more and more people understand the reality of abortion the tide will begin to turn in society as a whole. In a sense that's what happened, to a small degree, with Lesley; she can't see her walking the talk and become an abortionist. She did, in some respects, take a step back in her embrace of abortion.