The truth about risky pregnancies and late-term abortions

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 19th of February, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up today: high-risk pregnancies.

Last month, New York legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and Virginia lawmakers considered doing something similar, but rejected it.

Those states received the most media attention, but they are not the only ones to consider removing protections from the unborn. Similar efforts are underway in New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Delaware removed all abortion time limits back in 2017.

REICHARD: Attempts to justify abortion at such late stages of pregnancy usually emphasize the mother’s health.

Christina Francis is an obstetrician who has seen her share of difficult medical cases.

Dr. Francis joins us now to talk about her work with high-risk pregnancies. Good morning.

CHRISTINA FRANCIS, GUEST: Good morning, Mary. Thank you for having me on.

REICHARD: Abortion advocates, like Planned Parenthood, say expectant mothers need the option of a late-term abortion to protect them. Is that true?

FRANCIS: Well, you know, absolutely not. There are certainly circumstances in which a pregnancy needs to be terminated early, but terminated in the sense of just separating mom from baby and that can be done very safely through an early delivery, in most cases. But, when you are past the point of viability, which currently is at about 22 weeks gestation, then there’s never a need to kill that baby to save the mother’s life.

REICHARD: What kind of conditions create high-risk pregnancies?

FRANCIS: Sure, well, there’s many, many conditions that can classify someone as a high-risk pregnancy, but some common ones that we talk about would be something like preeclampsia or some people might have heard that referred to as toxemia of pregnancy, where a woman has high blood pressure and there can be involvement of her liver and her kidneys. Another situation that arises that sometimes leads to the need for an early delivery would be where there’s an infection in the uterus around the baby and the only way to treat that and sepsis of the mother would be delivery of the baby. And then there are certain pre-existing health conditions that a mom might have even going into pregnancy that could cause complications with their pregnancy, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, maternal heart disease. Many of these make her a high risk pregnancy, but don’t necessarily jeopardize her life during the pregnancy.

REICHARD: Do they all have good treatment options?

FRANCIS: Absolutely, absolutely. Now, there may be a need for an early delivery in order to improve her condition, but no reason that we would have to kill the baby. We can deliver an intact baby if that baby’s able to survive and we can give that child the medical care that he or she needs. If that baby is not able to survive, then we can provide that child with comfort care until they pass naturally.

REICHARD: Some of our listeners might be aware that the United States doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to maternal mortality. In other words, a high number of women die due to pregnancy-related complications every year. Planned Parenthood recently hinted at those stats in a controversial social media post that claimed it was statistically safer for a black woman in America to have an abortion than to carry a baby to term. What do you say to that?

FRANCIS: Well, women with more complex medical issues are getting pregnant more often than they used to and so that does carry a higher risk of mortality because of their medical conditions. However, if you look at the numbers, the CDC says that an abortion is just as safe as having a tooth pulled, but these are false numbers. So, if you actually look at the studies, for every week beyond eight weeks that an abortion is done, the mortality rate related to that abortion increases by 38 percent. So at nine weeks it’s 38 percent higher than it was at eight weeks and so forth. And so especially these “late-term abortions” that we’re talking about, actually carry a significantly higher mortality risk than a live birth would.

REICHARD: Dr. Christina Francis is board chairwoman for the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Thanks so much for coming on the program today.

FRANCIS: Thank you for having me, Mary.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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