Saturday, July 16, 2011

When is Late Term Abortion Necessary?

Pro-lifers like me, are so often accused of not caring about women, especially, pregnant women.  If you listen as the choicer's tell it, we would let every woman die that had a life threatening event during her pregnancy.  I assure you, this is not the case.  All any pro-lifer will ever ask, is that everything possible be done to save the baby, but never at the expense of the mother's life. 

Today, I read an article entitled "I don’t like that you do abortions, but if you didn’t, I would probably be dead".  Within the article, an anonymous physician tells of his experience with a 'very pro-life' couple, who in the end, opted to abort their unborn baby.

A woman had arrived on Friday with ruptured membranes. She was 21 weeks along in her pregnancy and now there was no amniotic fluid left at all. She and her husband wanted everything done. Despite the dismal prognosis for her baby, in respect for the patient’s autonomy, antibiotics were started. Within 24 hours it was clear she had an infection.

Delivery was recommended as these infections are potentially deadly. The parents refused. “The antibiotics might work,” they said. And no amount of discussion about the overwhelming medical evidence that supported delivery could sway their decision. Inducing labor at 21 weeks while their baby was still alive was abortion.

The infection worsened despite the antibiotics. The patient, who was  rapidly deteriorating, and her husband reluctantly consented to an induction of labor.

The induction didn't work.  The doctor goes on to say how he convinced them that termination was the only way to save the mother's life. 

Prior to the surgery, the husband asked:

“How did you learn to do these procedures?"

The doctors answered:

"By doing abortions. Lots of them. I have done more late term abortions than most doctors of my generation. That makes me very skilled. But the privilege of helping women end their pregnancies safely also gave me the skill to help women like your wife." 

The article intentionally left it unclear which procedure was used.  Was the fetus taken intact?  If so, did it live for a few minutes?  If so, were the parents given the opportunity to hold, to love, to create memories of their baby?  My guess is no, no, and no.

According to AAPLOG (American Association of Pro-life Obstetrician's and Gynecologist's), this is one of a few instances when termination may be the only way to save the woman's life.  As an addendum to their mission statement, they wrote:

What is AAPLOG’s position on “abortion to save the life of the mother?”?

Abortion is the purposeful killing of the unborn in the termination of a pregnancy. AAPLOG opposes abortion. When extreme medical emergencies that threaten the life of the mother arise (chorioamnionitis or HELLP syndrome could be examples), AAPLOG believes in “treatment to save the mother’s life,” including premature delivery if that is indicated — obviously with the patient’s informed consent. This is NOT “abortion to save the mother’s life.” We are treating two patients, the mother and the baby, and every reasonable attempt to save the baby’s life would also be a part of our medical intervention. We acknowledge that, in some such instances, the baby would be too premature to survive.

Indeed, we acknowledge that some babies are just too premature to survive, but.we.still.try.  Might there have been an alternative for this patient?  Perhaps.  

An article on AAPLOG's web-site, "Is Late-Term Abortion Ever Necessary?" (also available in PDF) sheds some much needed light on the issue of late-term abortion.  The author, Mary L. Davenport, M.D., writes:

Although most late-term abortions are elective, it is claimed that serious maternal health problems require abortions. Intentional abortion for maternal health, particularly after viability, is one of the great deceptions used to justify all abortion. The very fact that the baby of an ill mother is viable raises the question of why, indeed, it is necessary to perform an abortion to end the pregnancy. With any serious maternal health problem, termination of pregnancy can be accomplished by inducing labor or performing a cesarean section, saving both mother and baby. If a mother needs radiation or chemotherapy for cancer, the mother’s treatment can be postponed until viability, or regimens can be selectedthat will be better tolerated by the unborn baby. In modern neonatal intensive care units 90% of babies at 28 weeks survive, as do a significant percentage of those at earlier gestations.

Another part of the same article gives clarity to the reason some doctors, such as the anonymous physician, choose not to try to save the baby.  Law suits.  Stated plainly, there is less risk of a doctor being sued after performing an abortion, than there is in attempting to save the baby (and the mother).

If there was any advice to give after reading these articles, it would be this.  If someone you love has a similar event during her pregnancy, call a maternal fetal specialist, not an abortionist. 

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