Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Only 0.006 percent of abortions are done to save the mother's life

The feet of an aborted fetus (via)
Any discussion on abortion usually leads to a discussion on this hypothetical question, "What if the mother's life is in danger because of the continuing pregnancy, and the doctor must make a choice between saving the mother or saving the child? Wouldn't an abortion in such a case be justified?"

As a doctor, I can tell you there are really very few situations in the first and second trimesters, where an ongoing pregnancy could endanger the health of the mother. For example, a patient with a very severe heart disease may not be able to carry a pregnancy into the third trimester.

I usually address this ethical dilemma by talking about the fact that it is sometimes necessary to do something that is essentially wrong, and violate a moral law, in order to really obey a higher moral law. For example, if we know a terrorist is planning to blow up a building, and there is no other option, we may need to kill the terrorist in order to save the lives of the others in the building. We would do this even though we know it is wrong to kill.

Very rarely, therefore, it may be necessary (and right) to abort a human fetus in order to save the life of the mother.

More often, this situation arises in the third trimester, especially in a mother with eclampsia (caused by very high blood pressures). In such cases, the baby must be quickly delivered, even if the chance of the pre-term baby surviving are lower because that is the only way the mother can get better. This is technically not an abortion, but, rather, an early delivery. The aim is always to deliver the baby in a facility which has a good neonatal unit, so that even such a preterm baby can have a chance to survive.

Which is why I am not surprised by the results of an audit of 6.4 million abortions in England and Wales between 1968 and 2011, which found that only 0.006 percent of procedures were performed to save the life of the mother.

I quote,
"A report to Parliament has revealed abortions performed in the United Kingdom to save the life of the mother are a stunningly low 0.006 percent of procedures.

David Alton, who for 18 years was a member of the House of Commons, wrote, “When the case for allowing legal abortion was first placed before Parliament it was argued that the law needed to be changed to deal with extremely serious situations.

“More than six million abortions later the figures reveal that in 99.5 percent of the cases where an unborn child’s life is ended there is no risk to the health of the mother,” he said.

The details came in a response from Earl Howe, the parliamentary undersecretary of state in the nation’s Department of Health, to Parliament. He confirmed from 1968 through 2011, the last year for which details were available, there were 6.4 million abortions for women in England and Wales.

“Of these, 143 (0.006 percent) were performed under Section 1(4), i.e. where the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman,” he wrote.

He noted another 24,778 were done on the grounds that a continued pregnancy would involve more risk to the mother than if the unborn child were destroyed."
(HT: Veith)

Clearly, this rare indication for performing an abortion has been over-used and misused to justify framing very liberal abortion laws.

Proverbs 24:11,12
11.Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
12.If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?

Related posts:

Open Letter to M: Why abortion cannot be a matter of personal choice

Image bearers

Is Genetic Selection our Moral Obligation


  1. Powerful. Stunning. Lord have mercy on us. What a culture of death we live in.

  2. This is an amazing message!!! This has to be spread!!! :)

  3. Hi.. Im Praveen from the batch of 2006 and currently working in Mizoram.. Nice article and i definitely think its an issue that remains unaddressed for way to long.. But just one thing i would like to point out here is that, in India one of the reasons we have sort of liberal abortion laws is to prevent danger to the mothers life that may come from illegal abortions that are bound to take place as the law gets tough. So im not really sure we as a country are ready for tougher laws, for i think it could be counter productive if our intention was to save a life. I might be wrong here but its just a thought that came across my mind:)

    1. Hi Praveen, thanks for dropping by, and for having the courage to express yourself!

      There are really two things I would like to say.
      First, I believe abortion is not really a matter of personal preference, but rather, it is a moral issue. What I mean is that we cannot end a discussion on abortion by saying, "This is what I believe, and you can believe what you want. As long as you do not force me to believe what you believe we will be okay. Let us agree to disagree agreeably." Etc.

      When I say it is a moral issue, I mean there is a right opinion and a wrong opinion. It is not merely an attempt to save a life (as you have mentioned), but an attempt to encourage people to do the right thing.

      At the heart of the matter lies this question, "What is the unborn fetus?" If you can see, as I do, that he/she is a unique human being, with a unique set of DNA that has never been seen before and with a unique personality and structure, you will agree with me that no other human being should be able to decide to kill him/her. "Thou shalt not kill" applies equally to the living unborn as well as to the living adult.

      Any other opinion is logically, scientifically, and morally wrong.

      It may sound like I am being arrogant and dogmatic, but if you think over what I say, I think you will agree that scientifically, and logically, new life has begun at conception when the sperm and ova have united to form a brand new, unique one-cell human being, with unique DNA, who grows and develops rapidly, just as every human being does. Every human being has the same rights, whether he is an hour old, a year old or a hundred years old!

      Secondly, when a person is making wrong choices, and getting into trouble, the solution is generally not to make it easier, more convenient and safer to do so.

      Let us assume my four-year old is getting on my nerves, generally upsetting my well-laid plans, and caring for him is spoiling my career prospects, and I would like to get rid of him. A wise man would not support legislation permitting killing of a child if his continued living is likely to cause serious psychological stress to me, and then send me on my way with a gun in my hand.

      On the other hand, wisdom would make killing this child an incredibly difficult thing to do. Not only would it be illegal, I would be warned of all sorts of consequences if I continue in making wrong choices.

      I would argue that the solution to illegal, unsafe, septic abortions would be:
      1. Spreading the news that the unborn is a living, unique human being with rights that should be protected.
      2. Spreading awareness of the consequences of abortion on the mother's life, physical and mental health, future fertility, and conscience.
      3. Assuring all who assist in abortion of serious legal consequences.
      4. Offering other options for a family to deal with the unborn who is tragically unloved and unwanted. These would include awareness about adoption agencies and facilitating the process of relinquishment of a child for adoption.

      Let's keep talking.....