When I discuss abortion and finish proving that the preborn child is alive and all lives are equal and valuable, sometimes someone will ask me if I think abortion is acceptable if the mother’s life is in danger. They want to know if I will choose the child’s life over the mother’s or vice versa. I always start by responding that in every pregnancy, we must address the health of both patients, treating each as human beings, and trying to save both lives, without forgetting about the other. Next I explain these three cases where a pregnant woman’s life may be in danger and why abortion is never necessary to save the mother:
1. The mother has cancer or another disease that needs treatment.
In these cases, treatment of the mother’s disease may result in the death of her preborn child. When a woman is in this unfortunate situation, abortion will not cure her of her cancer or other disease. Abortion is never a medical treatment for any type of disease. It is possible that if/when the woman receives treatment, such as chemotherapy, the child could die, but this is NOT the intentional killing of her preborn child.
3. Death during childbirth.
Every pregnant woman risks death during childbirth and the argument is that because of this, women should be able to get abortions. This argument fails because if women are getting abortions so that they avoid death during childbirth, then abortion would be an absolute good and every woman would get an abortion to avoid death. This is not the case, because even with the risk of death in childbirth, it is wrong to intentionally kill a preborn child. In addition to this, there is a chance that women could die while getting an abortion, also making this argument invalid.
2. The child has implanted outside of the uterus.
About a week after conception, the child typically has finished traveling through the fallopian tube to the uterus and implants into the uterine wall. However, sometimes the child does not make it to the uterine wall by that time and implants into other locations including the fallopian tube, cervix, ovaries, or in the abdomen. This type of pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, occurs around 1-2% of the time. In these situations, we must do everything we can to save both the life of the mother and the life of her preborn child. If to save the mother, the treatment causes the unintentional death of her preborn child, it was not an abortion and was not murder.
As medicine has advanced, doctors have been more and more capable of performing surgeries to move the preborn child successfully into the uterus or care for the child wherever he or she may have implanted. In fact, studies have shown that there have been only 3.8 maternal deaths per 10,000 ectopic pregnancies, compared to 35.5 maternal deaths per 10,000 ectopic pregnancies in 1970. That’s about a 90% decrease in maternal deaths. Of course, those maternal deaths are still absolutely tragic, but these medical advancements have really benefitted women.
In addition to this, studies have discovered a link between ectopic pregnancies and abortion. They have found that there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy in women who have had an abortion. In 1970, before abortion was legal, there were 4.5 ectopic pregnancies per 1,000 pregnancies. That number has risen to 19.7 per 1,000 pregnancies in 1992. (http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0215/p1080.html and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8582994)
The conclusion is that in each case where the mother’s life is at risk, abortion is NEVER a medical treatment. The intentional killing of a preborn child will not bring any help to the mother. If the treatment results in the unintentional death of the preborn child, it is not an abortion.
Sometimes after going through these points during discussion, the people I talk to still do not believe me. Everytime, I ask them to send me an email with a case where abortion would be a medical treatment to save the mother’s life and every time, they tell me that they’ll send it to me immediately. I have not gotten a single email. If you think you know of a case where abortion would be a medical treatment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .