Woman Dies After Being Refused Abortion

This Hindu woman died after her pregnancy became life-threatening. She requested and was refused an abortion at an Irish hospital, due to that country’s strict anti-abortion laws. The husband believes his wife would still be alive today if the abortion had been allowed to go forward.

How would you respond to a challenge from a fellow Christian who said this incident illustrates that abortion may be “ok” in certain circumstances?

I disagree, but this case in point illustrates how theological doctrine can become very practical.

Interested in your feedback!

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/indian-woman-dies-after-being...

 

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Anne Sokol's picture

this actually happens. it's extremely rare, but there was a lady in TN who whose pregnancy would have killed her if it had continued, and she and her dr are both deeply pro-life. it was very very distressing to both of them. she had other children, so she did have an abortion.  

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Tyler,

I don't know that I would ever view abortion as OK any more than I would killing any other human being as OK.

However, I see abortion in the above case not being any different than self-defense. If someone was threatening my life or the life of one of my family members, and I had the capability to kill them to stop it, I would do so. It would be a decision I would have to live with, but not one I would overly fret over.

I would do the same in an abortion situation. I am firmly against abortion, just as I am against murder, but if an unborn baby was threatening the life of my wife and abortion were the only solution, I would approve it to save her life. I would fervently hope to never be in that position, but if faced with such a decision, I would not shirk it. This applies doubly in the case of the woman in the news article. The baby died anyway (and apparently the doctors believed the baby would die as well), along with the mother. The father did what I would have done, though in America, unlike Ireland, it would have been allowed in most cases because of "life of the mother" clauses.

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

This is a very touch call. It is not an easy case to evaluate. I am still waffling on what the "right" thing to do was in this case.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

To me it is morally reconcilable. Her life is given primacy as the fetus, though not volitionally but still really, threatens her life. The fetus must be removed and done so with the knowledge it will result in the death of the fetus. It is called self-defense.

Anne Sokol's picture

also when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy. the baby is actually alive and growing, just not in the womb, and it is life threatening for the mom. 

Daniel720's picture

If you have power to save one by killing another, is there no sin if both have the same right to live?

And, by what sins have we a disease which finds a person having no option but to cause a train to run down one life to save ten?

I'm not sure in myself that I have a good answer to these questions. I dread a day when I find I must take such actions. I pray only I have wisdom then to do what God, in his wisdom, wills, and not what I, in my blindness, prefer.

My best half-answer is that the life of the mother for her son was once given, and that gift has seen the blessing of Abraham to all nations. I suppose that we all face a choice, on our feet, when any dichotomous sacrifice is required of us. How close had that mother come to living, and how close that son to dying?

That hope can be lost for both within the wish to save both, this, I believe, has been by an inherited curse. So, I think in myself, the main hope should be, not for either mother or son, but for that curse to be removed. 

The next word you read is true (and now it's the seventh-to-last word).

Daniel720's picture

dcbii wrote:
if an unborn baby was threatening the life of my wife and abortion were the only solution, I would approve it to save her life.

I'm not sure what, exactly, you mean. For example, what if you saw good chance that allowing the birth would save the baby, but, that the birthing likely would kill your wife?

The next word you read is true (and now it's the seventh-to-last word).

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Daniel720 wrote:

I'm not sure what, exactly, you mean. For example, what if you saw good chance that allowing the birth would save the baby, but, that the birthing likely would kill your wife?


Obviously, many games can be played with numbers, and "good chance" would have to be well defined, but yes, if I were told that delivery would save the baby but kill my wife, I would indeed choose to save my wife vs. the baby. She is one I took a vow to protect, to love like Christ loves the church (which could certainly mean my dying for her), and just as I would not hesitate to make a decision to shoot someone trying to kill her, I would, however reluctantly, have to make the same choice regarding abortion if the baby's future survival depended on killing my wife.

I'm no medical professional, but I still doubt there are many cases today where such a choice would actually need to be made, though I think they are possible. Further, my wife and I won't be having more children, so it's a bit of a moot point regarding abortion. Nonetheless, I will continue to pray that I am never in a place to have to make that kind of decision, whether in childbirth, or in a home invasion situation. Even if I would believe my choice to have been the correct one, I'm sure it would still be hard to live with the consequences, though I believe that's still no reason to shirk tough decisions.

Dave Barnhart

Anne Sokol's picture

There are a few Christian groups promoting that women not have ectopic pregnancies removed. I'll post this quote from Karen Campbell's site:

http://www.thatmom.com/2011/07/19/pro-life-apologist-has-this-to-say-abo...

(bolding is mine)

For any of you who have followed some of the crazy teachings from the fringe groups regarding ectopic pregnancies and being “truly pro-life,” here is what pro-life apologist and president of the Life Training Institute, Scott Klusendorf, had to say:

“Any pro-life group that tell you that “truly pro-life” means taking no action on ectopic pregnancy is full of nutcases. Ignore them. With EP, the developing human embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, usually on the inner wall of the fallopian tube. This is an extremely dangerous situation for the mother. When the EP outgrows the limits of the narrow fallopian tube enclosing it, the tube bursts resulting in massive internal hemorrhaging. In fact, EP [ectopic pregnancy] is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death during the first trimester. The accepted medical protocols in this case are to end the pregnancy through chemical (Methotrexate) or surgical intervention, with surgery being the superior treatment of choice. There is no way the developing human can survive EP. If the mother dies from internal bleeding, the embryo dies also, given he’s too young to survive on his own. At the same time, the limits of current medical technology do not allow transfer to a more suitable environment. Despite out best intentions, we simply can’t save the child.

What is the greatest moral good we can achieve in this situation? Is it best to do nothing and let two humans (likely) die or is it best to act in such a way that we save one life even though the unintended and unavoidable consequence of acting is the death of the human embryo?

Pro-life advocates almost universally agree we should do the latter: It is better to save one life than lose two. Notice, however, the intent of the physician is not to directly kill the embryo, but to save the mother’s life. The unintended and unavoidable consequence of that life-saving act is the death of the embryo. Perhaps in the future we can transplant the embryo to a more desirable location. If that day comes, we should do that. But for now, ending the pregnancy is our only course of action. If we do nothing, both mother and child die. It’s best that one should live. But again, notice the intent in ending the pregnancy is to save the mother, not directly and purposefully kill the child.”

TylerR's picture

Editor

Thanks!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

My wife and I have talked about this, and we've already decided that if this were to happen to us, we would not abort the baby and pray for the best outcome for her.  A friend of ours went through this situation herself, and both she and baby are fine now, although the baby was born at something like 24 weeks due to medical complications via emergency C-section.

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Richard Pajak's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
To me it is morally reconcilable. Her life is given primacy as the fetus, though not volitionally but still really, threatens her life. The fetus must be removed and done so with the knowledge it will result in the death of the fetus. It is called self-defense.

 

I had to write because its one of the few times I have agreed with you Alex...as it is so rare I was delighted to do so.

The term self-defense however seems unneccessary.

Richard Pajak

Daniel720's picture

dcbii wrote:
Daniel720 wrote:

...what if you saw good chance that allowing the birth would save the baby, but, that the birthing likely would kill your wife?

I will continue to pray that I am never in a place to have to make that kind of decision, whether in childbirth, or in a home invasion situation. Even if I would believe my choice to have been the correct one, I'm sure it would still be hard to live with the consequences, though I believe that's still no reason to shirk tough decisions.

 

I'm not nearly as rational as most people, and if I were in the situation I asked you about there, I likely would be paralyzed from making any decision. So, I don't want to miss being deeply appreciative of your stance on this.

 

But, what if, in that situation, your wife told you that she wanted to have the baby live, even if it meant she could easily die. What would you decide then?

The next word you read is true (and now it's the seventh-to-last word).

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Daniel,

Sorry if it's a weaselly answer, but I'm not sure what I'd do in the situation you propose.

Obviously my wife and I would have to discuss it, and if she and I truly disagreed, I'd certainly have to pray and meditate a good bit to see what I thought was the right action. I could argue both sides -- I could abide by her wishes since it's her life, and on the other side, I'm sworn to protect her, and that might even include protecting her from herself. I would definitely be praying for God's wisdom.

Other than that, I'm still going to be praying I don't have to make that choice!

Dave Barnhart

PLewis's picture

My sister was born in 1961 .. years before Roe v Wade

My mother had toxemia and was taken to the hospital for an emergency C-section at (I believe) 33 or 34 weeks.. quite late in the pregnancy .. but pretty early (for 1961).  I remember my father saying that he had to sign something that gave the doctors permission to "save" my mom over the baby .. and the fact that while my sister survived - her birth certificate says the pregnancy was "aborted" .. (He also told me that at the local Catholic hospital he would have had to sign anything - as they would automatically save the baby over the mother .. (not sure if that was correct - but it certainly was what he believed...) ..

All that to say that I agree .. it IS sort of like self defense I think. I think these days these things happen MUCH less often ... (tho' they do happen once in a while) .. It would be a very difficult decision I think..