Saturday, October 22, 2016

Late-Term Abortion, the Life of the Mother and the 3rd Presidential Debate

During the 3rd presidential debate, Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump1 of using scare tactics when describing a late term abortion.  I took issue with her claim on social media and stated that Trump’s words were not scare tactics, but an accurate description of the process.  I claimed that the process is “brutal and barbaric” and I stand by that description.2

After reading my comments, a thoughtful reader shared the following comment that I thought was worth responding to:3

“I saw a true story on the news today about a condition where the amniotic fluid of a baby enters the mothers blood stream and the mother had to make a choice... her life or her baby's life. I think Hillary's point was that late term abortions are not always easy... as someone who sits here 38 weeks pregnant, it terrifies me to think that I would ever be in the situation to decide between saving my unborn baby's life or leaving [my child] motherless... it brings tears to my eyes to even type it now.... I'm not sure what I would do, but should government make the decision for me? What a hard subject abortion is ... I really can see the hardships on both sides…”

I believe the comment is instructive.  Notice that it communicates a genuine struggle over an important issue.  Absent is the typical rhetoric that often times enters into the pro-life vs. pro-abortion choice debate. 

As this comment demonstrates, the abortion debate is often an emotional one.  However, in my response to these thoughtful points, I will strive to say what I think about the points, not how I feel about them.  This should not be interpreted as cold or callous, but as my attempt to offer a sound and objective response that is factually based.

These situations are indeed tragic and those who have suffered through such a horrific event need to be shown the love of Christ.  They need our love and compassion, not our condemnation.

However, it important to note how extremely rare these cases actually are.  According to Dr. C. Everett, who was US surgeon general and a pediatric surgeon for 36 years:

"Protection of the life of the mother as an excuse for an abortion is a smoke screen. In my 36 years in pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life.

If, toward the end of the pregnancy complications arise that threaten the mother’s health, he will take the child by inducing labor or performing a Caesarean section. His intention is still to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby will be premature and perhaps immature depending on the length of gestation.

Because it has suddenly been taken out of the protective womb, it may encounter threats to its survival. The baby is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger."4

Moreover, Dr. Landrum Shettles, pioneer in infertility treatment and called “the father of in vitro fertilization,” claimed that less than 1% of all abortions were performed to save the mother’s life.5

And if one is still in doubt, even Alan F. Guttmacher, the “father of Planned Parenthood” conceded:

"Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life.”6

So, contrary to the claims of pro-abortion choice advocates such as Hillary Clinton7, we can confidently conclude that late-term abortions are almost never necessary to save the life of the mother.

Furthermore, when the life of the baby is lost as the result of an operation, this is not considered an abortion.  Consider the tragic case of ectopic pregnancy, a condition that pro-choice advocates state is “the most frequently presented example of a case in which the mother’s life may be in danger if an abortion is not performed…”8

A child has very little hope of surviving such a surgery and the surgery may be necessary to save the mother.  However, this is not the intentional killing of an innocent person who could otherwise survive.  The surgeon’s purpose wasn’t to kill the child but to save the mother.  As Randy Alcorn explains:

“The death of the child was a tragic side-effect of lifesaving efforts.  This was a consistently pro-life act, since to be pro-life does not mean being pro-life only about babies.  It also means being pro-life about women.”9

Finally, as others have pointed out, in regard to the extremely rare cases such as the one shared, advocates of the pro-life position favor legislation that would allow for life-saving measures on behalf of the mother.

Courage and Godspeed,

Related Articles

Exceptions: Is Abortion Ever Permissible?

Related Posts

When Pro-Abortion Choice Rhetoric Hurts

Could Acceptance of Abortion Be a Matter of Ignorance?

1. FYI- I am not a Donald Trump supporter, nor am I a Hillary Clinton supporter. Neither have earned my vote this election season.  In my humble opinion, both are morally unacceptable candidates.
2. For those who disagree, I challenge you to view this animated video of the process or consider the words of former abortionist turned pro-life advocate Dr. Anthony Levatino when describing the procedure:

"The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby's head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby's brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you."

3. For the record, the reader kindly gave me permission to respond to her comment via the blog.
4. Randy Alcorn, Why-Pro-Life?, p. 79.
5. Virginia Kruta, "Even Democrats were Cringing When Hillary gave 'Late Term Abortion' Answers," Oct. 2016.
6. Alan Guttmacher, “Abortion Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” The Case for Legalized Abortion Now (Berkeley: Diablo Books, 1967), 9.
7. Further, it should be noted that research doesn’t support Hillary Clinton’s claim that late-term abortions are performed for ‘life and health of the mother.’  See here.
8. Bill Fortenberry, “Ectopic Personhood,” The Personhood Initiative, Dec. 20, 2011 as quoted by Randy Alcorn, Why Pro-Life?, p. 81
9. Randy Alcorn, Ibid., p. 80-81.

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