Abortion To Save A Mother’s Life?

It is written:

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

One of the most troubling aspects of the abortion “issue” involves situations in which a mother’s life is at stake. To be certain, such situations do arise, although rarely.

Alcorn has noted:

“While he was United States Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop stated publicly that in his thirty-eight years as a pediatrie surgeon, he was never aware of a single situation in which a freborn child’s life had to be taken in order to save the Me of the mother. He said the use of this argument to justify abortion in general was a “smoke screen.” Due to significant medical advances, the danger of pregnancy to the mother has declined considerably since 1967. Yet even at that time Dr. Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood acknowledged, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.”529 Dr. Landrum Shettles says that less than 1 percent of all abortions are performed to save the mother’s life.530” (Randy Alcorn, Pro-Life Answers To Pro-Choice Arguments, 3941-3949 (Kindle Edition); Multnomah Books)

While pro-choice advocates use this argument to incorrectly justify all abortions, it does raise the important question: what should a woman do in such a situation?

I don’t pretend to know the full answers to this question. I have known situations where doctors told women that the mother would die if the pregnancy was not terminated, and the woman decided to have the baby, and both lived. I have also heard of situations where the woman decided to have the baby in such situations, and the mother died. I have even heard of situations where both mother and child died in these circumstances.

However, I believe Norman Geisler has some well-reasoned insight on these maters:

“Thanks to the advances of modern medicine, it is seldom necessary to initiate a drastic procedure that will lead to the death of the unborn in order to save the mother’s life. However, when it is necessary (such as in tubal pregnancies), it is morally justified to take every medical precaution to save the mother’s life. This is not abortion as such, and for several reasons. First, the intention is not to kill the baby; it is to save the life of the mother. It is justified on by the principle of double effect, which affirms that if one action (say, to save a life) leads to two consequences, one good (saving the life of the mother) and the other bad (leading to the death of the fetus), then the act is justifiable if one wills the good result. Second, it is a life-for-a-life issue, not an abortion-on-demand situation. Actually, it is not really an abortion at all since it is not an operation aimed at killing an embryo. Third, when one’s life is threatened, as the mother’s is, she has a right to preserve it on a self-defense basis (see Exod. 22: 2) since the presence of the fetus in a fallopian tube (an ectopic pregnancy) is threatening her life. Either the baby dies or else both will die. And it is better to save one life than none.” (Norman Geisler, Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues & Options, 3407-3415 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic)

Our hearts should go out to the mothers and the children in such situations, and we should do what we can to offer encouragement and solace. Yet we must remember that these rare situations do not offer justification of abortion on demand.

Ultimately, the Good News of Jesus is that through Christ, we are promised forgiveness, salvation, and healing when we turn to Him by obeying His plan of redemption (Acts 2:37-38; James 5:16; Galatians 6:1-2).

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