The subject of rape, incest and life of the mother as exceptions to bans on abortion came up at last night’s GOP presidential debate, and moderator Megyn Kelly proved to be dangerously wrong on this issue.
Kelly was aghast that anyone would have any hesitation about approving an abortion to save the life of the mother. She spoke of this choice as if were one that commonly and frequently must be made.
The reality, however, is that an abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother. This is, quite simply, a choice that a mother and her doctor never have to make, and Ms. Kelly has contributed to the already widespread ignorance on this subject.
The nearest circumstance would be what are called ectopic pregnancies, the anomaly in which the fertilized egg attaches to the Fallopian tube and never implants in the womb of the mother. Removal of the Fallopian tube is necessary to preserve the mother’s life and thus is a procedure that indirectly – not directly – causes the death of an unborn child. This technically is not even an abortion, because the procedure is done for the purpose of removing the Fallopian tube, not killing the baby.
As Lauren Enriquez writes, “The abortion procedure is not – ever – necessary to save the life of a mother…[A] true abortion – in which the direct intention is to end the life of a human being – is not a treatment for any type of maternal health risk.”
- The Association of Pro-Life Physicians, committed to fulfilling the do no harm component of the Hippocratic Oath, has said (emphasis mine throughout),
“We find it extremely unfortunate that many pro-lifers have regarded the health of the mother to be a consideration in whether or not she should have the right to terminate the life of her pre-born baby. Politicians who herald the title “pro-life” on the campaign trail frequently tout this health exception, as well as exceptions for rape and incest, as pragmatic compromises that will not offend political moderates and not alienate the pro-life community. We do not consider this compromise consistent with pro-life Hippocratic principles at all. To intentionally kill or condone the intentional killing of one innocent human being precludes one from being considered “pro-life” at all. A murderer of one person is not any less a murderer if he allows thousands to live, nor if he saves thousands from dying!
“When the life of the mother is truly threatened by her pregnancy, if both lives cannot simultaneously be saved, then saving the mother’s life must be the primary aim. If through our careful treatment of the mother’s illness the pre-born patient inadvertently dies or is injured, this is tragic and, if unintentional, is not unethical and is consistent with the pro-life ethic. But the intentional killing of an unborn baby by abortion is never necessary.”
Here’s what some of the world’s leading gynecologists and gynecological organizations have to say (emphasis mine):
- “When we are talking about saving mothers’ lives, we should not use the terms ‘abortion’ and ‘saving mothers’ lives’ in the same sentence, full stop. It is a dreadful reflection on anyone who would actually do that. This is about saving mothers’ lives, preserving dignity and not stigmatising anybody. These are wanted pregnancies, loved pregnancies, and intervention has to be made to save the mother’s life. To call it an abortion is wrong.“ ~ Dr. Sam Coulter Smith, Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital
- “During my 35 years as Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at University College Galway, and Director of the Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology I delivered – with these hands – over 9000 children in Galway. From my experience, I believe I am entitled to say that there are no circumstances where the life of the mother may only be saved through the deliberate, intentional destruction of her unborn child in the womb.” ~ Professor Eamon O’Dwyer
- “It would never cross an obstetrician’s mind that intervening in a case of pre-eclampsia, cancer of the cervix or ectopic pregnancy is abortion. They are not abortion as far as the professional is concerned, these are medical treatments that are essential to save the life of the mother…95% of members of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists surveyed said that they could preserve mother’s lives and health without abortion.” ~ Professor John Bonnar, then Chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- “We consider that there is a fundamental difference between abortion carried out with the intention of taking the life of the baby, for example for social reasons, and the unavoidable death of the baby resulting from essential treatment to protect the life of the mother.” ~ Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- “As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn in the termination of pregnancy – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman. We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatments results in the loss of life of her unborn child.” ~ The Dublin Declaration, issued at the 2012 International Symposium on Maternal Health
- “In the case of cancer complicating pregnancy, termination of pregnancy does not improve maternal prognosis.” ~ World-renowned cancer specialist, Dr Frédéric Amant, who specializes in the safe delivery of chemo/radiotherapy during pregnancy
Bottom line: while medical treatments to save the life of a mother may tragically result in the death of her unborn baby, that is a far different thing than deliberately killing a baby through abortion, which is never medically necessary to preserve the life or the health of the mother.
Megyn Kelly should have known better.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)