An OB-GYN Answers Questions About Abortion
We addressed common medical questions that come up in discussions about abortion, including chemical abortions, ectopic pregnancies, and medically recommended terminations.
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Interview with Dr. Chris Cirucci
We are still processing the big news of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This will be the first in a series of discussions we will be doing related to this topic, including life issues, abortion, advocacy, and practical issues.
Tonight's focus = medical questions!
We had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Chris Cirucci, a Board Certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist (OB-GYN), who has worked as a physician for the last 20 years. Dr. Cirucci is the Vice Chair of the Board for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG). She is also a scholar for the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Reasons to Believe.
These are the big questions we brought to Dr. Cirucci:
What is the role/obligation of ethics for physicians?
Doctors must take into consideration:
1. Beneficence--doing good for the patient.
Note: Obstetricians have TWO patients--the mother and the baby!
2. Maleficence--not doing harm.
3. Autonomy--patients can ultimately choose their own treatment after the doctor has given information/advice.
4. Justice--treating people with equality.
How do these aspects interface as a Christian?
These principles are consistent with a Christian faith.
At what point does life begin?
Life begins at conception. Biology shows us this! When the sperm fertilizes the egg and the zygote is formed, that life has its own DNA. It has its own unique code, different from the mother's DNA, which is what makes it life!
What about the issue of viability?
There's no magical event that happens in the uterus that makes a baby "viable." Due to technological advances, babies can now survive outside the womb at 22 weeks--with a lot of help--(this time-frame used to be 24-25 weeks); however, this is not an issue of viability. Babies are dependent for their care whether they are at 22 weeks, 40 weeks, 3 months old, 2 years old, and so on.
Is abortion necessary to protect/save the life of the mother?
These situations are very rare! Sometimes babies will need to be delivered early due to medical issues (in the mother or baby)...in these cases of *separation* of mother and baby, the baby may not make it, BUT this is different than abortion. In other words, SEPARATION of mother and baby is not an abortion. Saving the life of both is the goal!
What about if/when the mother has cancer? Would she need to actively abort her baby in order to provide a chance for the mother's survival?
With cancer during pregnancy, the mother works with a team of specialists to determine the best plan of care...maybe it's delivering early or deferring cancer treatment until delivery. The team and mother/parents would decide their plan of care, but it would not HAVE to involve abortion in that situation.
Is it considered an abortion if the baby dies in utero?
No! Abortion is an active killing of the baby to terminate the baby.
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the pregnancy is not in the uterus, but instead begins developing elsewhere, usually in the fallopian tube. The baby CANNOT develop anywhere except in the uterus, so the baby will not survive and the mother is in danger of a rupture of the tube, which is a potentially grave medical emergency. Treating an ectopic pregnancy is NOT an abortion!
How do Heartbeat Laws affect treatment of ectopic pregnancies?
Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy would have a heartbeat, but not usually because the pregnancy is very early. Nevertheless, treating an ectopic pregnancy is NOT an abortion; therefore the Heartbeat Law is not applicable in treatment of ectopic pregnancies or miscarriage. The baby cannot survive and if nothing is done, the mother could die.
What are the ethical obligations of an OB-GYN to counsel parents who have a baby in utero with potential birth defects or a high likelihood of dying after birth?
When defects are suspected, the OB-GYN refers the parents to a team of specialists where they can receive more information and discuss options. Ultimately, the mother/parents have autonomy to decide how they will proceed. Also, there is the option of perinatal hospice that provides care for the family of a baby that will likely die a few hours or days after birth (due to severe birth defects). Important to note: this is NOT an abortion!
What about birth control?
There are several types of hormonal contraception. It is important to understand how the contraception works. For example, is it preventing fertilization of an egg or is it destroying an embryo (by preventing it from attaching to the uterine wall)?
What about chemical abortions?
Chemical abortions are not new (approved in 2000), but have been trending more recently in the news and are becoming more common. Chemical abortion is taking pills to cause the abortion (rather than a surgical procedure). Chemical abortions are NOT safer than surgical abortions.
How is a chemical abortion different from the "morning after pill"?
Chemical abortion includes 2 stages of pills:
1) anti-progesterone which stops the baby's growth/development and 2) a pill that causes contractions and induces labor so that the baby will be delivered
Morning after pill--after unprotected intercourse (within up to 3 days), the woman can take this pill to prevent pregnancy/implantation of the embryo.
**Note: Chemical abortions are becoming easily accessible without a prescription and without being under a doctor's care. This extremely risky and dangerous for the woman!!**
Are there long-term effects of abortion, chemical abortion, hormonal contraception, morning after pill, etc?
The data for surgical abortion shows that women are more at risk for pre-term labor when they have had an abortion/multiple abortions.
**Christians--it's important to determine what your worldview is BEFORE a crisis arises. Know what you believe and why, so that your Biblical worldview can inform your decisions when a crisis/tragedy arises and stress is high.
**Pastors--talk about these issues with your congregation! Provide discipleship and help your congregation work through these issues from a Biblical worldview!
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life organization:
Dr. Cirucci was recently interviewed by our friend, Fuz Rana, from Reasons to Believe regarding chemical abortions:
Check out Krista's recent blog post regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade:
Connect with the Guest
Christina A. Cirucci, M.D. is a board-certified OB/GYN and has worked for twenty years in private practice outside of Pittsburgh, PA.
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