Exceptions: What about when a woman’s life is at risk?
Sometimes when you are speaking to people on campus you only have a small window of opportunity to answer a very difficult question. Oftentimes the “exceptions” or hard cases that justify abortion for so many are brought up and you need a quick answer. Below is a quick answer that you can use in a pinch that summarizes the complexity of this issue when you only have a sound bite moment to give an answer.
When a woman’s life is at risk, if she continues her pregnancy the doctor must consider both the mother and her preborn child as separate patients. When it comes to recommended medical procedures, the answer is that we can perform any action that is intended to save lives, but also does not directly or intentionally kill anyone, like an abortion. In an ectopic pregnancy the removal of the baby from the fallopian tube is meant to save the mother’s life and is not an act of intentional or direct killing of her baby. Many lifesaving treatments can be altered to help the mother without harming the baby. Also, the delivery of the baby can be scheduled to eliminate risk to the mother and give the baby an opportunity to survive through medical advances in micro-preemie care without directly killing the baby.
A couple years ago our friends at Equal Rights Institute went into a fuller discourse on answering this difficult question at our Leadership Summit hosted at UCLA. Go here to read more and download the audio of this presentation to get more insight on this difficult question: http://blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/mothers-life-risk-speech-audio/