Since the Dobbs decision last summer, the abortion debate has been swirling with lies, myths, and deceitful semantics in order to scare voters into codifying abortion-on-demand in their state.
One side is saying that standard, life-affirming treatment for pregnancy complications–such as ectopic pregnancies, life-threatening cases where preterm delivery is necessary, and miscarriage care–are all abortions. If we don’t allow abortion-on-demand, these women will not get the medical care they need, they say.
Nothing could be further from the truth. These women have been treated for their complications before Roe, during Roe, and after Roe. And these treatments are not elective abortions. Even if the baby tragically dies as the result of medical treatment such as chemotherapy or induced preterm delivery, the intention is never to kill or harm the child–and that’s the difference. It is misleading to call these treatments abortions, when a vast majority of the public is thinking they mean elective abortions. What they mean is intentional feticide, homicide of a fetus is needed.
There is never any medical reason to intentionally kill an unborn baby to save the life of the mother.
Pro-life doctors have been speaking about and providing this point–that there is never any medical reason to intentionally kill an unborn baby to save the life of the mother. And we do our best to share this truth through the confusion. This debate over semantics and ever-shifting definitions is exhausting and a special form of spiritual warfare on the pro-life movement, and I don’t believe hearts and minds will be changed by pointing to definitions in medical handbooks.
Focus on Life Affirming medicine
Rather, I prefer to focus on what good we can do through excellent, life-affirming medicine.
As a life-affirming doctor, one of the core principles I live by is to “never pit mom against baby.” By this I mean, I refuse to reinforce the idea that my patient’s well being is opposed to her unborn child’s well being. If any of my patients are facing physical complications such as hypertension or diabetes, or if their baby is diagnosed with a congenital illness, we remind them that mom and baby are on the same team and that we are going to fight for both mom and baby.
In these hard cases, the life-affirming approach is to get both mother and baby as far along in the pregnancy as possible if it is safe. The medical goal should always be to allow for the maximal chances of survival for both the mother and her child.
Most diseases in mothers develop to a life-threatening status after the child is viable and can go to the NICU. We may determine the mother needs to deliver by early induction or c-section, and in these cases, the baby is viable and has a good chance of survival. We use our Intensive Care Units and technology to monitor their physiology and look for the move toward more severe illness if that occurs. We are going to treat mother and child with respect and dignity. This is what we do in medicine.
Life-affirming doctors always attempt to care for the patient by focusing and targeting the disease.
We never get rid of the patient as the disease.
The unborn child is not the disease here, the brewing infection is. The hemorrhage is. We never get rid of the patient as the disease. The damaged tube in the case of ectopics is. The lupus is. The hypertension is. And on and on. Even if we must end the pregnancy early, the direct intention is never to end the life of that child.
Doctor, mom, and baby are all on the same team.
This is a powerful and a necessary reminder for the mother, that doctor, mom, and baby are all on the same team. No matter what happens, my patient deserves the peace of mind knowing that we fought for both her and her baby. Excellent women’s health is excellent care for the fetus, the unborn child.
When abortion is stated as the treatment of choice for the life of the mother, it is a bandaid on the real problem. The real problem is not the child, but what the child points to: the broken relationship, the low self-esteem, the poor timing, the lack of money or support, the reason for having “no choice” in deciding for abortion. There is always a choice.
As a life-affirming doctor, I never pit the mother against her baby. I fight for two patients. Mothers with complicated or high-risk pregnancies deserve hope–not elective abortion–and a good doctor willing to do their utmost for both patients.
Life is not Risk Averse!
Life is not risk-averse. Let us accompany each other to face the real issues of the abortion decision, the cancers that afflict us to get us to this point of believing that killing our fetus is a sound and healthy response for health and happiness.