Monday, January 24, 2011

Abortion: Special Cases

In every argument, opponents contrive the most extreme examples and question to see how you’ll defend your argument consistently in such a circumstance. Such is the case with abortion; people want to know if we’ll still support no abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or difficult pregnancies. In the complex circumstances of rape and incest we must determine a clear, biblical solution. Despite the terrible realities of rape or incest, there is never justification for destroying life. Many argue that the mother should not have to deal with the trauma and consequence of carrying a child she did not want, but the truth is that she makes the child out to be a victim as well by choosing to abort the baby. While the circumstance may be difficult, the ends do not justify the means. If the mother was diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease and needs to undergo immediate radiation or treatment, it is often advised that she abort the baby because it will likely die. The Association of Pro-Life Physicians site suggests that “The necessary medication may injure or kill the pre-born child, but this is no justification for intentionally killing the child. If the child is injured or dies from the medication prescribed to the mother to save her life, the injury was unintentional and, if truly medically necessary, not unethical.” (

There are a couple situations when it may be ethical to abort a child, but this must be carefully explained and understood. One may be if the mother has an ectopic pregnancy, where in many cases if the baby continues to grow both she and the baby will die. Another may be a rare pregnancy where the mother’s health is in critical danger if nothing is done. In either case we must be incredibly careful to fully explore the options and determine that the mother will most likely die if she either continues with the pregnancy or gives birth. For instance, most people consider ectopic pregnancies to be deadly in any case, and that in order for the mother to live the baby must be aborted immediately. However, there are some cases where ectopic pregnancies have survived when after waiting the baby moved from the fallopian tube. There still are ectopic pregnancies that have to be ended because they are seriously endangering to the life of the mother. The Association of Pro-Life Physicians says this about such issues:
“If through careful follow-up it is determined that the ectopic pregnancy does not spontaneously resolve and the mother’s symptoms worsen, surgery may become necessary to save the mother’s life. The procedure to remove the ectopic pregnancy may not kill the unborn child at all, because the unborn child has likely already deceased by the time surgery becomes necessary. But even if not, the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, and the death of the unborn baby is unavoidable and unintentional.”  (
Waiting is generally not even considered in today’s medical system, which is why it’s important to carefully analyze the situation, and if possible, find a pro-life doctor. If it were impossible to save both, the life of the mother would take precedence over the life of the unborn child. But even in extreme pregnancy examples when we can’t do two right things at the same time, we have to carefully and prayerfully determine what is most important.



Anonymous said...

Where in the bible does it say the mother would take precedence over the unborn child? Maybe it's the mother's time to die in God's view, and only man's medicine has saved her. You can't have things both ways. Either we follow God's edicts or we do not.

Allison said...

Hi Anonymous,
If you carefully read my post, you will have noted that I desire to be very cautious to not promote abortion or give an excuse for it, and I explained that even in the dangerous cases the choice of abortion must be very carefully and prayerfully determined, and not just on a whim or out of fear. The prerequisite, in my mind, is that the mother’s life must positively be in danger to continue with the pregnancy.

Often times we face situations where we have to choose between very difficult options. We have to determine how to best follow what we believe the Bible to say and seek the Lord for His direction. Rahab lied to protect the spies that were in her house. In that situation either option created a problem—one included lying and the other would have been helping kill the spies. Which was “right”? Neither option is an absolutely clear, “Yes, this is the biblical choice”. Situations like this or difficult pregnancies require us to seek the Lord’s guidance to what the best option is in light of the circumstances.

While the Bible does not specifically speak in these specific situations, it certainly gives principles and guidelines that we can apply to difficult situations such as I mentioned in this post. We know that God is a God of life and desires for us to protect life because He commands us to not murder. But what if the situation warrants that if we intervene one life will die and another will live, or if we don’t do anything that both lives will die? Is it best to sit back and not do anything?

In an ectopic pregnancy, for instance, should the baby not move out of the fallopian tube, the mother will hemorrhage to death, and the baby will likewise die. This circumstance, although quite rare, leaves the family with two options—an abortion, which would take the life of the baby, and doing nothing, in which case the mother and baby will both die. (Although in some circumstances the baby dies anyway and surgery can be performed to protect the mother; see quote in post above.) I think we can take the biblical principle that we should work to protect life by saving the life of the mother, since we have the ability to do so. If you believe that is unbiblical, then in cases where someone needs surgery or cancer treatment, then you must conclude that we should not operate or do anything because it might be God’s will for them to die.

The Bible doesn’t spell out what type of clothing you must where, but there are principles of modesty. The Bible doesn’t speak to the issue of particular music you should or should not listen to or whether or not you should watch TV, but when we make these decisions they should be based off of study of what the Bible does say principally and what God reveals to us. It won’t look the same for everyone. If you believe that the mother’s life should not take precedence over the child, do you then believe that the child’s life should take precedence over the mother? What if she has three other young children who will be left motherless? If you biblically make a case that the mother’s life should not take precedence, and if God has given you that conviction and it comes from a study of the Word, then you may uphold that. I believe that you can take a different stance with a clear conscience before the Lord without violating any moral issues in Scripture.