Abortion and Medical Necessity: Press Talking Points

Microphone in forefront and blurred people in background

Talking about abortion with pro-choice people can already feel scary. Multiply that by a million, and that’s how it feels for most of us to talk to pro-choice press! We have so much empathy for pro-life people who’ve been caught flat-footed in interviews, especially in this post-Roe era when tensions are high and questions about legislation are complicated. We’ve been there too! One particular way many pro-life people have been causing unforced errors resulting in bad publicity is by using definitions of “abortion” that don’t line up with the mainstream understanding. Once you understand the nuance of abortion definitions and medical procedures to save a woman’s life, here’s how we recommend responding to questions on abortion and life of the mother in shortened, press interview-like situations. These answers are authored by Emily and written in her voice.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is your position on abortion?

Abortion is a conflict of rights issue. There’s inherently a conflict between the woman’s right to bodily autonomy and the fetus’ right to life. We know through biology that the unborn are alive because they’re growing, and we know they’re human because they have two human parents, and I think all living humans are valuable and deserve to be equally protected from violence. The bodily autonomy of pregnant women definitely complicates the issue, but I can’t think of a consistent reason to allow someone’s right to do what they want with their own body to let them kill an innocent person. Innocent people being subject to violence, which is what elective abortion is, is the kind of thing the government should have laws against. I’m pro-equality and anti-violence against innocent people, and that’s why I’m pro-life.

Isn’t abortion essential medical care for women?

If a woman’s life is at risk, then she should absolutely be able to take medical action to save her own life. But elective abortion is intentionally killing a person when there’s no justifiable self-defense claim; that’s not healthcare. Healthcare is, by definition, preventative or restorative. But abortion kills a human who already exists, so it can’t be preventative. And if abortion is restorative, you have to pathologize all pregnancies, which is stunningly anti-woman. To categorize pregnancy as abnormal—a problem or irregularity that must be “fixed” in order to conform the female body to a “normal” defined in terms of the male body…as a woman, I find that idea revolting. Elective abortion is not healthcare; it is violence against innocent human persons.

Women around the country are being forced to carry dead fetuses for weeks because of your pro-life laws.

Pro-life people are not advocating for women to be denied miscarriage treatment. I see how this can be confusing, since the medical terminology for a miscarriage is a “sponteous abortion,” and the procedures used to remove a dead fetus are almost identical to an elective abortion. But ethically speaking, these are very different procedures; one is killing a living human, the other is removing a deceased human. Miscarriage treatment should not be subject to restrictions, and this confusion should be a wake-up call to legislators to make sure they are writing laws that clearly differentiate between elective abortion and miscarriage management. Miscarriage is already a traumatic experience for many women, and we can and should work to get them treatment quickly and improve mental health support. 

What about ectopic pregnancy? What if her life is at risk? Can she have an abortion then?

I believe that all state bans on abortion should include exceptions for saving the life of the mother. The pro-life movement stands firmly against all elective abortions. However, we recognize that occasions like ectopic pregnancy can arise where it is not possible to save both the woman’s and the unborn child’s lives. Saving both lives should always be the goal, but if that isn’t possible, no woman should have to die from pregnancy. She should have swift access to necessary medical care to save her life.

But aren’t your laws forcing doctors to wait until the last minute to perform those life saving procedures? 

Doctors are trained to handle triage situations, and a potentially dangerous pregnancy should be treated the same way. There are two patients there—the woman and the unborn human—and doctors should do everything they can to save both. I trust doctors to monitor their health and judge when there is a legitimate risk to the woman’s life that requires action; doctors make these judgments all the time with other types of procedures, monitoring patients and making the best decisions they can with the information they have at the time. Abortion should work the same way; it seems perfectly reasonable that you can’t kill another person unless you have a certain level of confidence that a grave harm is going to happen and there is no other non-violent option.

What about a child who needs an abortion, like that 10-year-old in Ohio who was raped?

I believe that every pregnant woman or child should receive the best standards of care possible. If her life is at risk, the doctors should be taking swift action to save her life. Especially in the case of preteen pregnancies, studies show that poor pregnancy outcomes come from lack of access to medical care due to low socioeconomic status and social stigma. We need to eliminate these barriers to ensure that every pregnant person and their unborn child are receiving consistent, quality care. 

So can that care include an abortion in the case of rape?

No; elective abortion is not and never has been a mental health treatment. The trauma of rape should be treated with evidence-based methods, not with violence. I am against rape because it is an act of violence against an innocent person: the woman. I don’t think we should commit another act of violence against another innocent person—the child—in an effort to solve a legitimately traumatic situation.

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The post Abortion and Medical Necessity: Press Talking Points originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.” 

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Director of Education & Outreach

Emily Geiger is Director of Education & Outreach at Equal Rights Institute. She is the former Co-President of Oles for Life at St. Olaf College, where she worked to transform campus culture using ERI’s apologetics to foster respectful and productive dialogues about abortion. At ERI, she is using her educational background to write, develop curriculum, and teach pro-life advocates how to change minds, save lives, and promote a culture of life in their communities. A sought-after speaker, Emily frequently presents lectures on college campuses, in high schools, and for churches and conferences, and she regularly appears in interviews and radio/TV/podcasts, including appearances on MSNBC, BBC Newsday, EWTN, Focus on the Family, Relevant Radio, Christianity Today, and Real Presence LIVE. 

Emily is particularly passionate about reaching the youth of the pro-life movement. As a recent college student, she understands what it feels like to walk unprepared into a culture that is overwhelmingly pro-choice. Until she found ERI, she was faced daily with challenges to the pro-life position that she didn’t know how to answer, and she was afraid to speak out. She wants to equip pro-life students with the tools to intimately understand and articulate their pro-life convictions in a productive and compassionate manner. 

“The future of our movement lies with our youth. It is pro-life students who sit in classrooms daily with the very women who are most likely to seek an abortion. It is pro-life students who study philosophy, biology, and social justice in their coursework. It is pro-life students who can foster a culture of dialogue, respect, understanding, and intellectual consistency in academia. I want to empower pro-life students to turn the caricature of the pro-life movement on its head, becoming known as the most loving, respectful, and logical students their campus has ever seen.” 

Emily is also on the Board of Directors for Cradle of Hope, an organization that provides financial and material assistance to families and pregnant women. Cradle of Hope partners with over 180 agencies throughout Minnesota, including 7 of the 11 Minnesota Tribes, to prevent evictions and homelessness while giving families education and resources that empower them to choose life and care for their young children.

Emily graduated summa cum laude from St. Olaf College in 2021 with a B.M. in Vocal Music Education.

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