What About the Life of the Mother?

What is the biblical response to complicated medical situations in pregnancy?

by Frost Smith on July 26, 2022
Also available in Español

Since the overturning of the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, many well-meaning people are asking lots of questions. A common one is whether or not abortion is now illegal. As we’ve pointed out, the ruling didn’t really change much. It’s now up to each state’s jurisdiction to determine what its laws will be concerning restriction or abolition of abortion access.

In light of the confusion, social media platforms—often the more liberal ones most of all —are promulgating half-truths to rally support for keeping abortion alive (oxymoron intended) in their states. One such campaign puts faces, or rather names, to the plight of women who find themselves faced with a pregnancy they don’t want. We’ve already covered the meme that lists cases that have to do with “unwanted” children and cases of assault or abuse. In this article, we will discuss the meme covering those cases that have a true medical issue.

I’m pro-Theresa who hemorrhaged due to a placental abruption, causing her parents, spouse, and children to have to make the impossible decision of whether to save her or her unborn child.
I’m pro-Emily who went through IVF, ending up with SIX viable implanted eggs requiring selective reduction to ensure the safety of her and a SAFE number of fetuses.
I’m pro-Courtney who just found out she's already 13 weeks along, but the egg never made it out of her fallopian tube so either she terminates the pregnancy or risks dying from internal bleeding.

All these cases do pose a risk of death to either the mother or one of the growing babies in the womb. It’s ironic that, in the case of Emily, the lives of the children are considered in equal concern to the mother’s. It should be readily apparent that there should be some cognitive dissonance for those who argue that the life of the mother is the only thing that matters. However, the lives of both the mother and the children could be at risk in the extreme case of six growing babies.

Each one of these scenarios accounts for only a very small percentage of reasons women have chosen to end the life of a growing child.

First and foremost, we want to draw the attention of the reader to the emotive and hyperbolic nature of these listed situations. Each one of these scenarios accounts for only a very small percentage of reasons women have chosen to end the life of a growing child. These situations are very challenging, but let’s take a look at each one in a bit more depth.

Placental Abruption

The inclusion of this medical condition is misleading. While it’s possible that this already rare condition (0.6% chance overall1) could occur early enough in the pregnancy that the baby would not be able to survive if the mother is induced or has a cesarean section, that would be diminishingly rare, particularly with good prenatal care—so rare that it seems deceptive to even include it as a reason to keep abortion “safe” (though not for the baby!) and legal. The simple fact here is that an early delivery would solve this problem, leaving neither the mother’s life nor the baby’s at serious risk, particularly with proper medical care.

IVF Multiples

In in vitro fertilization (IVF), an infertile couple sees a reproductive specialist to increase the chances that they can have a baby. Typically, a woman will take medicine to induce her to produce a dozen or so eggs rather than the typical one in a menstrual cycle. These eggs are taken from the woman’s ovaries and allowed to be fertilized in a petri dish. If her eggs are healthy, most of these eggs will become fertilized and begin dividing. The fact that these groups of cells are in a petri dish in no way negates the fact that each one is a new, unique human being. Once the fertilized eggs reach a certain stage of development (usually after about four rounds of divisions—i.e., a 32-cell embryo), the woman will undergo a procedure to have some of the embryos inserted into her uterus in hopes that they will attach to the lining there and grow into healthy babies.

The decision about how many embryos to insert is made by the couple and the doctor. The rest are preserved in liquid nitrogen for another attempt.2 Since this process is prohibitively expensive and taxing on the couple, often two embryos will be inserted at the same time to increase the chance of the couple having at least one healthy child. Usually no more than three are used in order to avoid a large multiples “problem.” So, again, this is an exaggerated and emotive story for pro-abortion advocates.

While there have been some cases of couples having multiples of more than three, in general, this would have been because of rare circumstances and/or unwise decisions during IVF or other fertility treatments. In IVF, the couple and doctor likely should not have implanted six (or more) embryos. Though there are a lot of complexities to fertility treatments, intentionally using six or more viable3 embryos (as stated in the meme) would be a reckless decision that could easily affect the lives of both the embryos and the mother. And a plan should have been in place should all the embryos develop. Six babies wouldn’t be a “surprise” in the case of IVF in the given scenario.

For whatever reason, however, this does happen—sometimes even without reproductive assistance. Are the lives of the mother and baby necessarily forfeit? Again, no. While there may be other considerations about underlying medical conditions of the mother, it should be noted that with advanced medical care, it has been documented that a woman was recently able to carry nine children to 30 weeks gestation.4 Multiples are more likely to pose a risk to each other than to the mother, and in the very rare situation where it is clear that some of the babies are at risk due to other babies in the womb and early delivery will not solve the problem, the decision to “selectively reduce” is agonizing because it is known that a decision is being made to murder a baby. Who are we to play at being a god with the life of these precious babies? Suffice it to say that every attempt must be made to save all babies and the mother. It is beyond the scope of this article to consider every case of multiples, medical conditions, and viability, but this is another case of using a ridiculous scenario to justify the general holocaust of abortion. And these advocates know it. Now you do too.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Of all the reasons given in the meme, this is the most common problem (2% chance).5 Yet it’s still a ploy to get blanket permission to exterminate the life of another helpless human being for reasons far less dire.

In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, a medical procedure or treatment is often necessary, as the baby cannot develop and would cause serious risk to the life of the mother. Though some ectopic pregnancies resolve on their own under careful medical monitoring, those that do not can go on to catastrophically rupture a fallopian tube or other structures, causing hemorrhage and death. Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester, and due to the location of the pregnancy, the baby cannot safely develop. Therefore, neither the medical nor the surgical treatment of ectopic pregnancy should be lumped in with any sort of abortion ban. Cavalierly lumping medical and surgical treatments of ectopic pregnancy with elective reasons for abortion is deceptive. While the treatment may end the pregnancy (if the embryo is even still alive prior to treatment), referring to it in the same way as most other abortions is akin to calling the need to remove a portion of the stomach for cancer the same as a gastric bypass surgery. How shameful to use a tragic medical condition as justification for legalizing murder for any reason!

Other Conditions

There are other conditions, such as intrauterine infection in the second trimester, that actually are much more common6 than any of those mentioned in the meme. But in a fallen world, there are sometimes true medical conditions requiring difficult medical decisions, and the laws should allow for that. When we apply a biblical view that life begins at fertilization and weigh the implication that each mother and each embryo (fetus or child—each of these terms really mean a human being) bears the image of God, we tread lightly and earnestly pray that all involved would keep this in mind.

For every rare medical case argued by pro-abortionists for keeping elective abortion legal, thousands of babies have been cornered in their mothers’ wombs and destroyed violently for no medical cause. And we, as a society, have looked the other way. We hope that others will come to see the horror of keeping elective abortion legal in light of this expansive loss of human life in its wake.


The main thing to consider regarding these rare and difficult situations is how doctors and others can do their best to maintain the lives and health of both the mother and the baby (or babies).

There are complicated situations and underlying medical conditions beyond the scope of this article. The main thing to consider regarding these rare and difficult situations is how doctors and others can do their best to maintain the lives and health of both the mother and the baby (or babies). All are image bearers of God and deserve respect and care, before and after birth. “Pro-choice” advocates mainly offer one choice for the mother: the death of her child. They want to keep allowing the murder of babies for any reason—even for instance, if the baby is a different sex than what the parents were hoping for (with female babies being more often “selected” for termination in a twisted irony for those who would mistakenly call abortion a women’s rights issue). But we, as Christians, can come alongside these women and families in these difficult circumstances and offer hope and help, while respecting all these precious lives and encouraging their health and survival.

Resources to Help You Share the Sanctity-of-Life Message


  1. Health Research Funding "15 Dramatic placental abruption statistics" healthresearchfunding.org, accessed 07/25/2022, https://healthresearchfunding.org/placental-abruption-statistics/.
  2. There are obvious ethical problems with this technology that are beyond the scope of this article—namely, what is to be done if the couple does not use the leftover embryos. Thankfully, some programs exist to save those “leftover” embryos from destruction.
  3. Sometimes with IVF, some embryos aren’t as healthy-looking and are considered unlikely to survive.
  4. Guinness World Records "Most children delivered at a single birth to survive" guinnessworldrecords.com Accessed 07/25/2022, https://guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-children-delivered-at-a-single-birth-to-survive.
  5. Krissi Danielsson "Ectopic Pregnancy Statistics" Very Well Family Accessed 07/25/2022, https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-do-statistics-look-like-for-ectopic-pregnancy-2371730.
  6. Tommys Pregnancy Hub "Intrauterine infection (chorioamnionitis)" tommys.org 07/25/2022, https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/intrauterine-infection-chorioamnionitis.


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