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Mother and Child Are Equal
Be especially cautious when talking about this heartbreaking subject. Your conversation partner might personally know someone who experienced a life-threatening health problem while pregnant.
We find it helpful to talk about a concrete situation. One difficult situation is when a pregnant woman suffers from cancer somewhere in her reproductive system.
It’s always wrong to intentionally attack the child, even for a noble goal like saving the mother’s life. However, it’s appropriate for doctors to treat the mother’s disease, even if those treatments have a risk of unintentionally harming the child. Thankfully, some approaches to treating pregnant cancer patients can potentially be effective while still giving the child a chance to thrive.
Still, in some cases, it can be morally acceptable to surgically remove a pregnant cancer patient’s uterus, even if the child isn’t viable yet. Tragically, this drastic measure ends the child’s life. However, it’s helpful to think of this operation as separate from abortion, because the purpose of the operation is to preserve life and health, not to attack anybody. The harm the child undergoes is not what benefits the mother.