Many people ask the question: What if a pregnancy poses a threat to the health or life of the mother? This is a very valid question that some people find difficult to answer.
Let’s start with the basics—the creation of a new human being. New human beings begin through the union of a human sperm and human oocyte. This can occur through an act of love, an act of violence such as rape or incest, or in a petri dish through in vitro fertilization. No matter how the creation occurs, the human dignity of that person does not change.
What if the mother is critically ill?
Operations specifically for the mother—such as the removal of a cancerous uterus that poses a threat of imminent death—may cause indirect abortions. By this, we mean they are justified under what’s termed the “principle of double effect.” Under this principle, the death of the child is an unintended effect of an operation independently justified by the critical necessity of saving the mother’s life. The intention is never to kill the child, but to save the mother’s life. These are very rare and tragic circumstances.
Can there be exceptions?
Unlike in the situations described above, abortion is direct killing; the intention is to remove the human child, thus killing him. Since the preborn child is a human being, there can be no exceptions for abortion. Nothing can justify the intentional killing of an innocent person—preborn or born.
We must always remember that both the mother and the preborn baby are to be respected as human beings and both deserve equal protection. There is a moral obligation to do everything medically possible to save the lives of both the mother and the child in all life-threatening circumstances.
Abortion will not “cure” any life-threatening condition the mother might have. Rather, it kills one patient and harms another. Abortion is never okay.