Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday Night Q&A

If you were at church on Sunday night you'll have realised I caused a bit of controversy in response to one of the questions asked during the Q&A, which was "is there ever a circumstance where an abortion wouldn't be wrong". I responded that I thought there may be exceptional circumstances where this is the case, in particular where having an abortion could save the life of the mother, but that these represented a tiny proportion of all the abortions which take place.

Personally I think it is really important that as a community we are able to debate issues like this, so I thought I'd post here a portion of talk (which I'd endorse wholeheartedly) given by someone called Peter Saunders which you can read in full on the Christian Medical Fellowship website. At the end of the talk he addresses "Deadly Questions on Abortion" and says this:

What about abortion to save the life of the mother? Usually when the mother’s life is at risk, the baby is viable and so can be saved simply by bringing forward the time of delivery. On very rare occasions it may be necessary to terminate a mid-trimester pregnancy in an emergency in order to save the life of the mother. Here we are not saying that the baby’s life is less important than that of the mother, but simply (since the baby will die regardless) that it is better to intervene to save one life rather than to stand by and watch two die. Even in these situations it is usually possible to deliver the baby in such a way that the parents can have some short time with it. In the UK only 0.013% of all abortions are performed ‘to save the life of the mother’ and it is even questionable whether many of these require such radical action.

which is what I was trying to say. However, he then goes on to say:

Ireland’s leading obstetricians stated in 1992: ‘... we affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of the mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child’.
This was not unsubstantiated. The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin investigated in detail the 21 maternal deaths which occurred among the 74,317 pregnancies managed in 1970-1979. The conclusion was that abortion wouldn’t have saved the mother’s life in a single case.


So although this is a possibility in theory, in practice it rarely if ever happens. I hope that helps anyone who may have been confused as to what I was trying to say on Sunday night, and will add to our debate as a community as to how we respond to the issues of euthanasia and abortion. Hopefully overall the message on Sunday was very clear, that both euthansia and abortion are wrong, that we as a community must do everything we can to give dignity to human life created in the image of God, and that we must create communities of hope and love where people who society would consider to be 'of no worth' can be cared for and loved, cherished and valued.

Hope you have a great week, and that you manage to make it to one of the prayer meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.

Simon.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I disagree with the comments here! I had an ectopic pregnancy, it was not viable in those early stages of pregnancy and I would have died if it had not been surgically removed. To my knowledge this is a fairly common occurrence.

Sue

Simon Benham said...

Thanks for that Sue. I think medical people would categorise an ectopic pregnancy differently, in that with an ectopic pregnancy the foetus has no chance of survival. There would therefore be no debate in this case that the wellbeing of the mother must be put first. That does also raise the question of when does life begin - I've got a really interesting paper on that if anyone is interested!

Simon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon, yes, that would be interesting to read.

Sue

Anonymous said...

Years ago my sister was faced with this decision. She already had three children, and the third was two months early, the placenta had come away and long story short both she and the baby nearly died, but they both were fine in the end. She was told not to have any more children, or it might cost her her life. This was in the states and she couldn't afford to get her tubes tied. When she did become pregnant again, the doctor strongly suggested a termination. She really struggled with this, but with three other children already looking to her, she braved the protesters outside the clinic and had an abortion. Afterwards, the doctor performing the abortion told her that everything would probably have been fine. Very unhelpful. She has since had a fourth (and last!) child. She followed one doctors advice only to be told it was probably wrong. What kept her going was knowing the baby would be with Jesus. Again, I suppose that this begs the question of when does life begin.