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Is Abortion OK If The Mother’s Health Is At Risk?

Let’s get back to basics. New human life still comes into existence the same way it always has and always will – through the union of a human sperm and a human egg.

This biological fact does not change with the circumstances of conception whether a human being is conceived in an act of love between a husband and wife, during an act of violence such as rape or incest, or in the petri dish of a researcher through in vitro fertilization, the uniqueness and infinite value of that person does not change.


The Big Question

What if the pregnancy poses a threat to the health or life of the mother? Many people who do not understand the inherent value of every person from conception, struggle with the question of abortion for the health or life of the mother. Do pro-lifers oppose abortion even in these cases?

The answer is yes!


Abortion is Unnecessary to Save a Mother’s Life

Sir Albert William Liley, the father of modern foetology, teaches:

No matter how severe the mother’s heart disease, renal complaint, diabetes or mental illness, no one would be suggesting abortion was essential if the mother wanted the baby.


In 1967, former Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher said:

Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life of the mother.


Abortion is Direct, Intentional Killing

It is important to distinguish between the direct abortion which is the intentional and willed destruction of a pre-born child, and a legitimate treatment a pregnant mother may choose to save her life. Such operations – such as the removal of a cancerous uterus or an ectopic pregnancy that poses a threat of imminent death – are considered indirect abortions.

They are justified under a concept called 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 Baby is a Second Patient

The pre-born baby is a patient to be cared for and treated just as the mother is cared for and treated. This means that both the mother and her child are to be respected as human beings and are deserving of equal protection. There is a normal obligation to do everything medically possible to save the lives of both mother and child in life-threatening circumstances.

Abortion will not cure any life-threatening condition a mother might have. In certain circumstances, pregnancy may, in fact, relieve a medical condition. The outcome of a “problem” pregnancy can never be guaranteed, and we need to remember that doctors are not God.


The Point: NO Exceptions!

Once pro-lifers say that there can be a “good reason” to kill a per-born baby, the foundation of the pro-life position crumbles. Either the pre-born child is a person, or the child is not a person. Since the pre-born child is a person, there can be no exceptions for abortion.

Nothing can justify the intentional killing of pre-born children. It is wrong to argue that all pre-born babies do not deserve equal protection under the law. Who would suggest that a two year old child be killed because the child is physically or mentally harming her mother? Before or after birth, the lives of all children are of equal value to the lives of all other human beings.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision allowed abortion on demand at any time during the full nine months of pregnancy. In his written opinion on the case, Justice Harry Blackmun made a point that goes right to the heart of the “life of the mother” exception. In Roe v. Wade, the state of Texas argued to the Supreme Court “that a foetus is entitled to 14th Amendment protection as a person.”

Blachmun pointed out the illogic of the statement in the light of the state’s “life of the mother” exception. “If the foetus is a person who is not to be deprived of life without due process of the law,” Blackmun wrote, “does not the Texas exception appear to be out of line with the 14th Amendment command?” Indeed, it was all out of line thus paving the way for abortion in America for any reason at all.





  • Sassone, Robert L., The Tiniest Humans, p.35, American Life League, Inc., 1995

  • Allan Guttmacher, “Abortion Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” The Case for Legalized Abortion Now, Berkeley, CA: Diadlo Books, 1967, p. 9.


American Life League



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