Doctors: Abortion Not Necessary to Save Mothers’ Lives

9/9/14

From LifeSite News:

Almost 900 medical professionals have now signed the Dublin Declaration on Maternal Health, launched in 2012 to declare that abortion is not needed to save women’s lives.

Unveiled at the International Symposium on Maternal Healthcare in Dublin, Ireland, the Declaration states: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

“We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

“We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”

Read the rest here. In 2013, Dr. Anthony Levatino, an ob-gyn who formerly performed abortions and has treated women with high-risk pregnancies, testified before a Congressional subcommittee that abortion is not a viable treatment option when a mother’s life is at risk:

Before I close, I want to make a comment on the necessity and usefulness of utilizing second and third trimester abortion to save women’s lives. I often hear the argument that we must keep abortion legal in order to save women’s lives in cases of life threatening conditions that can and do arise in pregnancy.

Albany Medical Center, where I worked for over seven years, is a tertiary referral center that accepts patients with life threatening conditions related to or caused by pregnancy. I personally treated hundreds of women with such conditions in my tenure there. There are several conditions that can arise or worsen typically during the late second or third trimester of pregnancy that require immediate care. In many of those cases, ending or “terminating” the pregnancy, if you prefer, can be life saving. But is abortion a viable treatment option in this setting? I maintain that it usually, if not always, is not.

Before a Suction D & E procedure can be performed, the cervix must first be sufficiently dilated. In my practice, this was accomplished with serial placement of laminaria. Laminaria is a type of sterilized seaweed that absorbs water over several hours and swells to several times its original diameter. Multiple placements of several laminaria at a time are absolutely required prior to attempting a suction D & E.

In the mid second trimester, this requires approximately 36 hours to accomplish. When utilizing the D & X abortion procedure, popularly known as Partial-Birth Abortion, this process requires three days as explained by Dr. Martin Haskell in his 1992 paper that first described this type of abortion.

In cases where a mother’s life is seriously threatened by her pregnancy, a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours, much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem. Let me illustrate with a real -life case that I managed while at the Albany Medical Center. A patient arrived one night at 28 weeks gestation with severe pre-eclampsia or toxemia.

Her blood pressure on admission was 220/160. As you are probably aware, a normal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. This patient’s pregnancy was a threat to her life and the life of her unborn child. She could very well be minutes or hours away from a major stroke. This case was managed successfully by rapidly stabilizing the patient’s blood pressure and “terminating” her pregnancy by Cesarean section. She and her baby did well. This is a typical case in the world of high-risk obstetrics. In most such cases, any attempt to perform an abortion “to save the mother’s life” would entail undue and dangerous delay in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care.

During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of such cases by “terminating” pregnancies to save mother’s lives. In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.

Update:

Dr. Levatino writes about the health risks of later abortion:

Second trimester abortion procedures are neither simple nor safe …

It is particularly easy to cause a uterine perforation as the uterine walls are thin, soft and very vascular. Once while performing a suction D&E at, coincidentally 18 weeks, I was unaware that I had perforated the uterus until I pulled my patient’s intestines out through her cervix and vagina. That was a life-threatening injury. It turned out well because she was in a hospital operating room with proper anesthesia and we could respond immediately to the crisis. I shudder to think what would have happened to my patient if she had been in a freestanding clinic. …

… If a serious complication occurs, the woman will be dumped into a local emergency room and a physician with admitting privileges will be forced to care for her. Whole Women’s Health website promises a “fabulous abortion experience.” Is being abandoned by your abortionist when a serious complication occurs fabulous?

Update #2:

ClinicQuotes quotes abortionist Don Sloan, who refutes the claim that late-term abortions are necessary to save women’s lives:

If a woman with a serious illness- heart disease, say, or diabetes- gets pregnant, the abortion procedure may be as dangerous for her as going through pregnancy … with diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, even breast cancer, the chance that pregnancy will make the disease worse is no greater that the chance that the disease will either stay the same or improve. And medical technology has advanced to a point where even women with diabetes and kidney disease can be seen through a pregnancy safely by a doctor who knows what he’s doing. We’ve come a long way since my mother’s time. … The idea of abortion to save the mothers’ life is something that people cling to because it sounds noble and pure — but medically speaking, it probably doesn’t exist. It’s a real stretch of our thinking.”

Don Sloan, M.D. and Paula Hartz. Choice: A Doctor’s Experience with the Abortion Dilemma. New York: International Publishers 2002 P 45-46

Learn More
Why Legalizing Abortion Worldwide Won’t Save Women’s Lives
Legal Abortion Doesn’t Save Women’s Lives, Report Shows
Is Late-Term Abortion Ever Necessary?
Women Who Died From “Lifesaving” Abortions
Abortion Has No Benefits, But Does Have Risks, New Research Shows
Study: Later Abortions More Likely to Be Unwanted, Are Linked to Psychological Problems
Higher Death Rates After Abortion Found in U.S., Finland and Denmark


Comments

Doctors: Abortion Not Necessary to Save Mothers’ Lives — 2 Comments

  1. This appears that this doctor’s experience is more limited than some. But, of course, Albany medical isn’t known as a world class gynecological hospital. In the event of cornual, ectopic, and other similar pregnancies termination is necessary before 28 weeks in almost every case to prevent rupture of the uterus that has a high possibility of killing the mother and certainty of killing the fetus. In the case of cornual pregnancy, the baby can get to 16+ weeks before rupturing the uterus (and nearly impossible to get to 28+ weeks). As for Dr. Levatino’s puncturing the uterus, this can be avoided by using ultrasound guidance while doing the D & E. Also Dr. Levatino seems unaware that a D & E can be safely performed without the 36 prep time in the event of more immediate concerns.

    • Thanks for your comment. In his testimony, Dr. Levatino states, “In many of those cases, ending or ‘terminating’ the pregnancy, if you prefer, can be life-saving. But is abortion a viable treatment option in this setting?” He also mentioned that he has himself “terminated” pregnancies through early delivery and gives an example where he performed a C-section on a patient with a life-threatening condition, saving the lives of both mother and baby.

      He therefore appears to be drawing a distinction between direct abortion (for example, doing a D & E or D & X procedure) and removing a pregnancy to save the mother’s life (for example, surgically removing an ectopic pregnancy or performing an early delivery, even if the fetus can’t survive). So presumably in this context he is only referring to the safety and necessity of direct abortion procedures, not the procedures you describe. Perhaps this should have been made more clear in the post.

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