Is abortion ever medically necessary?
Abortion is never necessary to save a mother’s life.
It is important to distinguish between direct abortion, which is the intentional and willed destruction of a preborn child, and a legitimate treatment a pregnant mother may choose to save her life. Operations that are performed to save the life of the mother-such as the removal of a cancerous uterus or an ectopic pregnancy that poses the threat of imminent death-are considered indirect abortions.
They are justified under a concept called the “principle of double effect.” Under this principle, the death of the child is an unintended effect of an operation independently justified by the necessity of saving the mother’s life.
Essentially, both mother and child should be treated as patients. A doctor should try to protect both. However, in the course of treating a woman, if her child dies, that is not considered abortion.
Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life of the mother.
-Alan Guttmacher, former Planned Parenthood president