I Want You To End My Pregnancy

22 comments

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said:

“Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I’m pregnant again. I don’t want kids so close together.”

So the doctor said: “Ok and what do you want me to do?”

She said: “I want you to end my pregnancy, and I’m counting on your help with this.”

The doctor thought for a little and after some silence he said to the lady: “I think I have a better solution for your problem. It’s less dangerous for you, too.”

She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.

Then he continued: “You see, in order for you not to have to take care of 2 babies at the same time, let’s kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we’re going to kill one of them, it doesn’t matter which one it is. There would be less risk for your body if you kept the one in your belly and killed the one in your arms.”

The lady was horrified and said: “No doctor! How terrible! It’s a crime to kill a child!”

“I agree,” the doctor replied. “But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.”

The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.

Our lives start long before we are born.

22 comments Add comment

Jackie January 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm

I’ve heard this before…. did it really happen or it is an urban legend?

Matthew Warner January 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Jackie – no idea! But it’s still a good story that teaches true stuff. :-)

Bill Rysavy January 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

Love the post and the pics, Matt. Keep it up.

Matthew Warner January 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Thanks, Bill!

Frank March 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Hi Mr. Warner!

I just had a little question about this sentence in your post:

“There would be less risk for your body if you kept the one in your belly and killed the one in your arms.”

Do you know of any possible medical scenarios where this could be the case? Usually it’s the other way around.

Matthew Warner March 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

Frank – it’s a bit of a debated point in some circles depending on what aspects of health risk you take into account. But the idea here is that it is more detrimental to the mother to end the life of her child in her womb than to give birth to him/her.

Abortions not only carry immediate health risks from the procedure (as does child birth of course), but also long term ones as well – most notably an increased risk of breast cancer. You also have increased risks of depression and drug/alcohol abuse (which makes sense in dealing with the trauma of having intentionally ended the life of your child).

Of course, that last point is negated in this hypothetical scenario where the life of the other child is ended.

Here’s an article that goes into more depth of a whole slough of reasons abortions are detrimental to the mother: http://www.abortiontruths.net/abortionvschildbirth.html

Frank March 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I guess In this thought experiment it’s important to make the woman have no medical concern about her pregnancy, like where she and her child will both die if she goes to full-term. Otherwise the doctor would have to say, “There is the same amount of risk for your body whether you keep the one in your belly and killed the one in your arms, or vice versa.”

Matthew Warner March 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

No, not exactly. You can still have concern with delivering your baby. Those are real risks and there is no need to ignore them for the illustration. The point is that it is MORE risky to have an abortion than to deliver when you consider all the other risks (both short and long term) involved.

But really, this is a side point. The main point being that killing a child in your arms or in your belly are both immoral things to do and harmful for both mother and child.

Frank March 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I’m not sure I understand fully yet. I get confused if you include in the illustration the scenario that the pregnant woman would die without an abortion. I’ve heard that there are certain medical emergencies where there are only two possibilities, 1) an abortion is induced, killing the child and sparing the mother, or 2) an abortion is not induced, killing the child and killing the mother. I think they’re called ectopic pregnancies.

It may very well be that such pregnancies are entirely mythological, but if not, is it still true that there would be less risk for the body of the woman in the illustration if she kept the one in her belly and killed the one in her arms, if she and her unborn child would die together if an abortion were not induced? I feel in this case that there would be less risk for her body if she killed the one in her belly and kept the one in her arms, but honestly I have no clue, and as you said, it’s a side point, and of course that’s the only example that I think could even conceivably make a difference. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to add a hypothetical ectopic pregnancy in the illustration?

Perhaps not, but hopefully I’ve made my confusion clear.

Matthew Warner March 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Frank – it’s about risk. The total health risk to a woman is more risky to have an abortion than it is to go through childbirth. It’s that simple.

As far as ectopic pregnancies go, removing the part of the tube where there is a problem is not considered a “direct abortion”. The direct action is to fix something that is not working properly with the woman’s body (i.e. an embryo got stuck in the tube on the way to the uterus). As a result of removing that part of the tube, yes, the baby dies, but that is a secondary effect and not the intention of the procedure. So it’s not considered a (direct) abortion. And morally is something that falls under the category of “Double effect” if you want to look that up to learn more.

Frank March 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm

On your first point you’re probably right except in cases when women die during childbirth, although since I’m not an obstetrician I can’t say for sure whether dying during childbirth is riskier to a woman’s health than if she got an abortion and lived, so I’ll trust your expertise on that.

Needless to say ectopic pregnancies cannot come to full term, but I’m having a hard time seeing how a doctor who destroys a fallopian tube with a child in it is not implicitly saying, “There would be less risk for your body if you killed the one in your belly,” or, as it is indirect like you said, “There would be less risk for your body if you let the one in your belly die and kept the one in your arms.”

On another half-tangential half-relevant topic, I just thought you’d be interested in this number-crunch: According to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm, “Around half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously.” Unless I’ve been misled, all children who die before they are born (including fertilized eggs) go to Heaven. This means that at least fifty percent of the members of Heaven are unborn, and if you include the miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as induced abortions, it would appear that the unborn outnumber the born in Heaven!

lozen March 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

. . . Sisters, . . . I entreat you, if you have an hour to spare, a dollar to give, or a word to utter–spare it, give it, and utter it, for the elevation of woman!

John April 5, 2013 at 2:11 am

Interesting scenario. I accept that with modern obstetric care, the risks of childbirth are minimal but so too are the risks of a medically managed abortion. The long term mental trauma associate with abortion are of course real — if difficult to assess.

However the mental trauma associated with murdering a live infant would be catastrophic.

You will be familiar with the Judgment of Solomon (1Kings 3:16-28). Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for judgement. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.

After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there was only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. The liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!” However, upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!” The king gave the baby to the real mother. King Solomon’s judgement became known throughout all of Israel and was considered an example of profound wisdom.

I have dealt with many women who have come to me requesting abortion ( I am a medical practitioner). My experience has been that those women, in general, who elect to have an abortion are upset by their decision but the long term guilt/depression issues are of a relatively minor nature.

I surmise the mental sequelae of a mother deliberately murdering her living baby would be severe.

i guess the point you are trying to make is that there is no difference between the unborn and the born child. I find that hard to accept and beg to differ.

Matthew Warner April 8, 2013 at 2:04 am

John – why is it that you think it is much more severe to deliberately kill a born baby vs an unborn baby? Could it be that one we’ve met and the other we have not? What else makes it so different? And why should the fact that one is perhaps more dependent than the other or one is more known than the other be good reason to kill one over the other? Or reason for more angst over killing one over the other?

I think if we follow the line of questioning that logically follows from your surmising we’ll get to some telling answers.

John April 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

These issues are at the heart of the long running abortion debate. One argument is that life begins at the moment of conception. This fertilized ovum then begins to grow and develop and eventually emerges from the mother’s womb as a new born babe.
At one time it was convenient to espouse that “life begins at birth” – ie approximately 9 months post conception. This is clearly a nonsense as babies have been delivered – and survived- from 14 – 16 weeks gestation. This of course requires high tech neonatal care — in effect an artificial womb.
I guess it is not possible to draw an arbitrary line at any point in intrauterine development when “life begins” and therefore logic must determine that life begins at conception.
The problem is that the majority of people believe that abortion is acceptable (even if undesirable) in certain situations. For example when the mother’s life is in danger or the mental health of the mother is such that an abortion is preferable to continuing the pregnancy.
Many years ago I recall a very depressed pregnant patient who presented requesting an abortion. The certifying consultant refused the request and she committed suicide the next day.
This is the dilemma of adopting a uncompromising approach. The other side of the coin is the liberal approach to interpretation of the abortion laws. For example a woman decides she wants an abortion because the inconvenience of an unwanted child will cause her emotional distress.
Then there is the situation of the fetus with a diagnosed chromosomal abnormality. The parents decide they could not cope with a severely disabled child and find abortion preferable – analogous to the Vietnam village -it had to be destroyed in order to be saved!
I have wrestled with the abortion conundrum all my professional life. Personally I believe life begins at conception and abortion is morally wrong. However we live in a democratic society where people think differently and believe it is justifiable under certain circumstances.
I have been caught in the situation where my job involves anaesthetising for therapeutic abortion. Do I simply refuse to get involved (many of my anaesthetic colleagues do so) and deny a woman her rights under law. Do I selectively agree to participate according to the reasons for the abortion? It is an impossibly difficult situation to deal with.
One of the really hard things for me is the dissociation of the law makers and academics who pontificate and decide our abortion laws – from the people who are expected to deal with the consequences of the laws they invoke.
I have seen many foetusus dismembered and sucked from the womb by vacuum suction curettage. Try telling me the 14 week foetus is not human when I see miniature toes and fingers swirling in the glass vacuum container.
Society at times grants us the right to take human life. The soldier gets a medal for killing the enemy and we can kill in self defence. Some countries still find capital punishment acceptable.
I guess it comes down to perception. There is no doubt in my mind that a mother’s perception of a newborn baby is entirely different from her perception of an 8 week embryo in her womb. She would not tolerate a doctor killing her unwanted newborn but she would accede to a 8 week abortion with relative equanimity.

There are no easy answers.

Matthew Warner April 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm

John – I appreciate your honesty. And there are certainly many difficult situations involved. But that’s when doing the right thing counts most…even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

That’s when protecting human life matters most. When it is most defenseless and most innocent. The situations you mention of self-defense are entirely different moral situations. And the scenarios where the mother’s health is in danger are often different as well, involving principles of double effect and not direction abortion, etc.

Even still, there are hard situations. And we must help people through them. The story you tell of the mother who committed suicide…certainly you aren’t suggesting that the right answer to help her was to allow her to kill her own baby. That’s the lie. Clearly she had other issues. That mother needed love and care, not an abortion. To think that somehow killing her baby for her (something that would likely also cause a lot of emotional trauma for the rest of her life) was the answer is a tragedy and a copout on our part as a society. We think it’s an easy way out of a difficult situation. But that’s a lie.

Killing more innocent life is not going to fix the world. It makes it darker. And it would have made that mother’s life even darker. What we need is to love both the mother and her baby. And if she doesn’t love her baby, then that’s because she has been hardened to the point of not recognizing her own son or daughter. And she’s been duped by doctors and “friends” and politicians and unjust laws into thinking it’s “okay” or a valid “option” to kill her own son or daughter and that somehow that’s going to fix what’s wrong in her life. Those mother’s don’t deserve a blind eye and a torn apart baby. They deserve much better.

And as doctors (and anyone) we have a more fundamental obligation to do what is morally right than we do to any civil law. There are higher laws than civil laws. No woman, mother, doctor or anyone has the right to intentionally and directly end the life of another innocent human being. And any civil law that violates that must be ignored…regardless of the temporal consequences.

At the end of our lives, we will not be held accountable for how we upheld unjust civil laws or the unjust “rights” of others…especially when such laws violate innocent human life. We will, however, be held culpable for the moral decisions we ourselves make (or refuse to make).

God bless you.

Frank April 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Hey Mr. Warner, have you read “The Comparative Safety of Legal Induced Abortion and Childbirth in the United States?” It was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology 119 (2, Part 1): 215–219. A link to the abstract as well as the full text can be found here: http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Abstract/2012/02000/The_Comparative_Safety_of_Legal_Induced_Abortion.3.aspx

The doctors who wrote the paper concluded that “legal induced abortion is markedly safer than childbirth. The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than that with abortion. Similarly, the overall morbidity associated with childbirth exceeds that with abortion.”

If that is true, the total health risk to a woman is more risky to go through childbirth than it is to have an abortion, which I believe is the opposite of your conclusion.

Of course, the papers published in Obstetrics & Gynecology may not be quite as trustworthy as the information in http://www.abortiontruths.net, but I thought you’d be interested.

Frank

Matthew Warner April 10, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Frank – I appreciate the sarcasm. Please read the comments above more carefully as your point has already been addressed in a number of ways.

Frank April 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Hi Mr. Warner,

I apologize for being impolite about abortiontruths.net, if that is what you mean, but I do sincerely hope you reflect on the paper. I’m 98% certain that it is at odds with the part of your post where the doctor says, “There would be less risk for your body if you kept the one in your belly and killed the one in your arms.” I feel the comments above did not completely address my curiosities, and I apologize if they should have by now.

Frank

Matthew Warner April 11, 2013 at 2:00 am

Frank – I was referring to your sarcasm, not the impoliteness. And does the paper you mention consider the long term effects of an abortion? Increased risks of breast cancer, depression and living with the trauma of having killed your own baby, etc.? (things I mentioned above).

Either way, this was not the main point of why I shared the story and regardless of whether one way is more or less risky in various ways depending on what somebody wants to take into account, the lesson and moral of the story remains.

Frank April 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I’m sorry for the impoliteness and the sarcasm, Mr. Warner. Honestly for the most part I agree with the main thrust of this post, but I am nitpicking the sentence, “There would be less risk for your body if you kept the one in your belly and killed the one in your arms,” because I do not think it is true in very many cases, as unless I’m mistaken you believe.

I did a little reading up on the abortion-breast cancer link, and as far as I can tell, the abortion-breast cancer link seems to be more popular with pro-life activists than with cancer researchers. For example, the American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer) finds that “At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.” The link has references to many illuminating studies on the subject, for when you have the time.

From what little I’ve seen it appears to me that mental health research (for example the American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/index.aspx) suggests the risk of mental health problems in women who have an abortion is no different from those of women who go full term with an unwanted pregnancy. The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health also made their meta-analysis available, but it’s a huge chunk of data that ultimately supports medical consensus (you can find it here in any case: http://www.nccmh.org.uk/publications_SR_abortion_in_MH.html).

On the whole, I feel that cancer researchers and psychologists are generally better informed on the subjects of their research than pro-life activists, but I’m open to the possibility that I am wrong. If you know of any papers I could read that were published by cancer researchers or psychologists I think you would be doing me a very good turn.

To answer your question, no, “The Comparative Safety of Legal Induced Abortion and Childbirth in the United States” does not take into account breast cancer and depression, and I think the reason is because current scientific consensus is that there is no link between these things. I truly hope that this does not discourage you from reading up on the topic. With all due respect, I have serious concerns about the reliability of sites like abortiontruths.net.

If you have indisputable evidence of a causal link between abortions and breast cancer or mental health, I think you have a serious moral obligation on your hands to deliver it to the World Health Organization or the American Cancer Society or the American Psychological Association, or other influential medical groups whose point of view differ from yours.

Thanks for reading all of this and I hope you forgive me,
Frank

Matthew Warner April 17, 2013 at 11:42 am

Frank – thanks for all the info. I find the topic very interesting, but simply have zero time to really follow up on a subject that falls far down on my list of most important things to spend my time on. So please don’t take my comments as dismissive. I agree there is plenty of merit to the argument you make, but simply don’t have the time to pursue it. And again, the statement you are hung up on is really not the primary point of the post. So I’m just not that concerned with it and, again, agree it could be problematic strictly speaking.

I never held up abortiontruths.net as the most reliable site for these concerns. So it’s annoying when you continue to nitpick such things. You asked about some of the other issues, so I gave you a page that outlined some of them (which happened to be on their site). You didn’t ask for the most reliable and scientific source of all research on the topic. Which you seem more than capable of finding and seeking out if interested.

Of course every group has a bias…even every one of those groups you listed (and many of them have extremely pro-abortion or pro-choice advocates doing and analyzing the research you are reading in the medical community). So while they do so with the “authority” and weight of career scientists and recognized organizations, they are not immune from their own bias. But again, that’s not the point of this post, nor my reply.

These are complex issues with endless variables. You can say that a mother who goes through an unwanted pregnancy is just as likely to have mental issues as a mother who goes through an abortion, but it does not therefore follow that ending the life of your child is a neutral act and should be ignored as a factor affecting her mental health. That would be unscientific and illogical. It just means we need to help mothers to neither end the life of their baby nor struggle through an unwanted pregnancy without the help and care and love that they need to see their baby as the great blessing and gift that he/she is.

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