One of the most common defenses of late-term abortion is the claim that in some cases, abortion is medically necessary. Lately, Americans have been hearing this claim in defense of a law in New York that allows abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. But that claim is based on faulty assumptions about the options available to women who face life-threatening pregnancy complications. The truth, known to thousands of OB-GYNs worldwide, is that there is no situation in which an abortion is medically necessary.
The false idea that late-term abortion is sometimes necessary for “health” reasons has been knit into American cultural discourse since 1973, when the Supreme Court decision in Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade, introduced a definition of “health” so sweeping that it effectively eliminated all restrictions on abortion. Today, Americans are so used to hearing that abortion must be legal to protect the health of the mother that it may be difficult to fathom that there are truly no medical situations in which abortion, the direct, intentional killing of a preborn baby, is necessary to save a woman’s life.
But it’s true.
Over a thousand OB-GYNs and maternal healthcare experts joined together to affirm this reality in the Dublin Declaration, which states: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child — is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman. We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child. We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”
Dr. Anthony Levatino is a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist, and board member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He spent years working at Albany Medical Center, one of the top high-risk obstetrics hospitals in America. He has worked with some of the most complex pregnancy situations possible: mothers with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, rampant toxemia, and other life-threatening health issues that were exacerbated by pregnancy. These are exactly the situations that abortion advocates point to as ones in which abortion is medically necessary.
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Dr. Levatino has saved hundreds of pregnant women’s lives, working against the clock in the face of devastating health situations, and not once did he find that it was medically necessary to deliberately kill the unborn baby.
How did he do it? In each case, he simply delivered the baby, either through early induction of labor or through C-section. This is what any obstetrician who practices according to the Hippocratic Oath would do.
What OB-GYNs who abide by the Hippocratic Oath and the signers of the Dublin Declaration understand is that in every situation where a pregnancy is endangering a woman’s life, what has to happen is that the mother and baby have to be separated. But the physician can separate the baby and do everything in his or her power to save that baby’s life. This is different from an abortion. The purpose of an abortion is to kill the baby before birth, giving him or her zero change of survival.
Abortion advocates point to pregnancy complications like preeclampsia as examples where an abortion is “medically necessary” to save the mother’s life.
But there is another way. There is always another way, because emergency response to a situation like acute preeclampsia actually requires early delivery of the baby. It is necessary in that situation to separate the mother and the baby. But it is not the same as unnecessarily and intentionally killing the baby in cases where the mother’s life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy. Killing the baby offers no medical advantage to the mother.
The reality is that even if the baby cannot live after we separate mother and baby, there is a undeniable difference between a doctor trying to save the baby after that separation against long odds, and an abortionist deliberately and intentionally killing the baby within the womb.
In a late-term abortion, the baby is injected with a poison to stop its heart. Labor is then induced. This takes between two and four days.
Abortion is not a procedure done in true emergency situations. The purpose of an abortion is to produce a dead baby, not to separate the mother and the baby.
Because of the law recently passed in New York, and the bills under consideration in Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, the claim that abortion needs to be legal at any point in the pregnancy to preserve the life of the mother is likely to get a lot of play in the coming months. That claim, however, is not based in reality.
The reality is that, in an emergency, a physician can always separate the mother and the baby in a way that gives them both the best chance possible. Abortion is never about saving a life. It is about killing a human being, and it is never medically necessary to intentionally kill an unborn child in an abortion in order to save the life of its mother.
LifeNews Note: Lila Rose is founder and president of Live Action. Dr. Donna Harrison, OBGYN, is executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.