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Live Not By Lies...About Abortion

Dr. Christina Francis, CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), answers questions about pregnancy care post-Roe:

1 in 4 women has miscarried, and 1 in 50 pregnancies in the U.S. is ectopic. Some claim that overturning Roe v. Wade affects a physician’s ability to care for women with these conditions. That would rightfully concern any woman. Is this true?

The short answer is, simply, no. There is a difference, legally and medically, between an abortion and treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Even Planned Parenthood recognized this difference, stating on its website that removing an ectopic pregnancy is not the same as an abortion (though they recently removed this statement in order to continue to spread false information). An elective abortion is any procedure performed or medication given with the intent to end a pregnancy specifically by ending the life of the preborn child. This is not our intent when we treat a woman for an ectopic pregnancy or for a miscarriage.

In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which is life-threatening due to the risk of severe hemorrhage, we are intervening to save the mother’s life, but we do not intend the death of the embryo. In fact, the procedures typically used to treat an ectopic pregnancy are different than those used for elective abortions.

Some people confuse miscarriage with abortion for two reasons. The medical term for any pregnancy that ends prior to 20 weeks is “abortion.” However, a miscarriage is a “spontaneous abortion,” meaning the preborn baby passed away on her own, without anyone causing her death. The term “induced abortion” is how we code procedures where someone (like an abortion provider) has caused the death of the preborn child through medication or procedure.

The second thing that I think confuses some people is that the surgical procedures that are used to perform first-trimester (D&C) and second-trimester (D&E) abortions are the same procedures that can be used to remove a preborn child who has already passed away in the case of a miscarriage. However, laws that restrict abortions do not ban procedures, they ban how those procedures are used.

Any doctor or physician that claims they cannot treat a woman experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy or hesitates to do so is committing medical malpractice. They are putting women in extreme danger and should be held accountable for doing so.

How do you respond to claims about the need to have access to abortion to save the life of the mother? Have you ever needed to perform an abortion to save the life of a mother?

In 14 years of clinical practice, I have never needed to intentionally end the life of a preborn child in order to save the life of his or her mother. There are rare situations in which we need to prematurely deliver a baby due to life-threatening complications of pregnancy. If this occurs after the point at which the baby can survive apart from the mother (viability), we simply deliver the child and take care of both mom and baby.

Not only is this the ethical thing to do, and a fulfillment of our oath to do no harm, but it is also much faster than abortion and improves outcomes for the mother. Babies have survived as young as 21 and 22 weeks, as the age of viability continually changes thanks to medical science advances. If early delivery is needed prior to the point of viability, my duty as a physician is to save the life or lives that I can save without intentionally harming anyone else. This can be done in a way that respects the dignity of the preborn child and delivers him/her intact so Mom and Dad can hold their baby.

Not only is this what most patients desire, but it is also important because scientific evidence now indicates preborn children can feel pain as early as 12 weeks, meaning that babies whose lives are ended through dismemberment abortion experience excruciating pain during that process. There is comfort for parents to know they gave their child a chance at life and comfort for physicians to know they are always seeking to save them both, if possible.

Can you speak to the regulation of certain medications like misoprostol, which is used for both miscarriage management and in the abortion pill regimen?

Misoprostol is a drug that causes the pregnant uterus to contract and softens the cervix. It is the second drug in the two-drug medication abortion regimen (the first being mifepristone, a drug that’s intended to end the life of the child by blocking the action of progesterone, a crucial hormone in early pregnancy) — but it’s also used to help women complete miscarriages (where their baby has already passed), to induce labor at term in normal pregnancies, and also as a preventive agent for gastric ulcers.

State laws don’t outlaw the use of misoprostol, nor should they, even though the drug could be used in elective abortion, for the same reason that they don’t outlaw scalpels even though scalpels could be used to murder a patient. States do, however, have a vested interest in preventing this and other medications from being used to intentionally end the lives of preborn human beings.

We recently heard a tragic story of a young girl becoming pregnant as a result of rape. What is the pro-life medical treatment in this situation?

Being sexually violated is one of the most traumatic things a person can experience. Women and girls who have been through this tragic experience deserve the best health care, both physical and mental, that we can possibly provide. They deserve to be treated with methods that have been proven to actually improve their outcomes.

Many people assume that by getting rid of the preborn child, a potential reminder of the rape, the mother will be able to move past that trauma faster and easier. However, abortion is not and has never been a mental health treatment for rape. Mental health clinicians don’t do abortions. Mental health treatment for the trauma of rape depends on the level of clinical symptoms the survivor experiences and includes evidence-based treatments like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or psychodynamic therapy.

Ending the life of a preborn human being, regardless of how she was conceived, does not address the crime of her father and does not improve the primary victim’s mental health outcomes. One survey showed that 50-80 percent of women who conceived from rape chose to carry their child to term and that 80 percent of women who terminated their pregnancies regretted it.

The appropriate response to a traumatic pregnancy resulting from rape is compassion, active listening, motivational interviewing, and evidence-based therapeutic modalities. There is no evidence of a mental health benefit to abortion under any circumstance. Even the studies based on the Turnaway cohort, which are often quoted by abortion advocates to claim harm to women from being denied an abortion, show that by five years later, 96 percent of women were glad they did not have an abortion.

Dr. Christina Francis is a board-certified OB-GYN and the CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNS. You can find out more about her work at


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