Misconception Monday: Exceptions for the Life of the Mother

  • Ryan Phillips
  • 11/30/2020

Misconception: We must make exceptions to abortion restrictions because of cases of danger to the life of the mother.

Rape and life of the mother are two of the most frequently-cited justifications for abortion. However, just as cases of rape account for less than 1% of all abortions, a “medically necessary” abortion in order to save the life of the mother is also virtually nonexistent.  

The majority of severe health risks for the mother usually occur in the later stages of pregnancy. If a mother’s life is truly in danger due to a medical emergency, an abortion actually puts her at higher risk, as it can take anywhere from 24–72 hours in order for the cervix to sufficiently dilate wide enough to forcibly remove the child. Time is of the essence in a life-threatening emergency, and the safest solution is typically to deliver the baby as quickly as possible, whether by C-section or via the birth canal. Once the baby is delivered, the mother can continue to receive necessary medical attention.

But there is absolutely no reason to kill the baby that could otherwise be safely delivered. Killing the child does not enhance the mother’s chances of survival.

Only a clinic with a vested interest in abortion would make this case, and it would be prudent for women given any such case to seek a second opinion.

Even in cases when the baby must be delivered in the early stages of pregnancy, before viability, a baby can be delivered early without first intentionally killing it. Pro-lifers are (as a whole) only against elective abortion, as defined as the intentional killing of an unborn child.

Ectopic pregnancies (when the baby implants and begins to develop outside the uterus) are often mentioned in the discussion of “medically necessary abortions.” Often, a baby will not survive an ectopic pregnancy, and, without intervention, the mother’s life is also at very high risk. The removal of any such doomed pregnancy, therefore, is not defined as an elective abortion (by most pro-lifers or laws), but rather a lifesaving procedure for the mother.

The pro-life movement believes in the sanctify of life for all people, not just for unborn children. A mother’s life is just as valuable as her unborn child, and, if she is at risk, then she has every right to seek her own welfare. However, this should never be used as a justification to kill her unborn child when doing so is unnecessary and does not enhance her own health in any way.

Pro-Life Utah doesn’t just talk about saving children; we also provide free resources and assistance to women facing challenging pregnancies. If you are pregnant and need help, please take a look at what we have to offer you. If you are in a position to donate to support women in need, please consider making a donation.

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