Is abortion justified if the baby will die anyway?

baby boy, heart, abortion

It is a common misconception that all third trimester abortions are done to save a woman’s life or because there is something wrong with the baby. This recent article shows why third trimester abortions are never needed to save a woman’s life. Live Action News also published an article by Calvin Freiberger, proving that many third trimester abortions kill healthy babies. Few people, even those who consider themselves pro-choice, support killing a healthy, viable baby who is ready to be born just because his mother does not want him. But what about when the baby does have something wrong with him, and he will not live long? Is third trimester abortion justified in that situation?

An abortion in the third trimester is usually committed by inducing labor. Because the baby would often survive if born, she must be killed using digoxin before delivery. This drug is injected into the baby’s heart and causes cardiac arrest. Experts believe the baby is able to feel pain at this point. (Some research indicates pain may be felt by the preborn child as early as 5.5 weeks.) If the digoxin is injected elsewhere in the baby’s body or into the amniotic fluid, the child dies more slowly. In these cases, the baby could suffer for hours.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist, describes the procedure in the following video:

The alternative to violently killing the child in utero is giving birth and allowing the baby to die naturally. The parents have the opportunity to meet their baby, and the child dies in the arms of his mother or father, held and loved. Few people get to choose their manner of death, but most people feel that a peaceful death surrounded by loved ones is better than a violent death alone.

Couples who abort their terminally ill babies also tend to suffer from grief and depression. One study shows that 92% of mothers and 82% of fathers of children aborted due to fatal fetal anomaly suffer depression. Another study, in the British Medical Journal study, says:

Women undergoing termination of a planned or wanted pregnancy after prenatal diagnosis constitute a high risk group, vulnerable to depression and social disruption.

Anytime a baby dies, parents suffer grief. Does killing the baby through abortion instead of letting her die naturally lessen that grief?

A 2015 study in the journal Prenatal Diagnosis concluded:

Women who terminated [following prenatal diagnosis of a lethal fetal anomaly] reported significantly more despair, avoidance, and depression than women who continued the pregnancy. … There appears to be a psychological benefit to women to continue the pregnancy following a lethal fetal diagnosis.

Three women who carried their fatally ill children to term agree.

Rosemary Truman rejected abortion for her terminally ill child, who lived only a short time. She says:

We were able to hold her, bathe her, share our favorite places with her, show her off to our loved ones and special friends. She had a taste of life.

It was the hardest and saddest time of our life. However, we learnt so much from this experience. I valued her life just as I have my other children. She gave us joy, pain, suffering, compassion, and love.

It was worth every minute as I got to know her. To feel her beautiful spirit. She died in my arms and they will always feel empty without her.

However, I know the joy of motherhood and I cherished every minute. I have a memory of her and I can keep that forever. (1)

Nicolle Reece, mother of a child named Micah who died soon after birth, said:

[So many people said] “after all of that, he just died anyway!” And “It would’ve been so much easier if you had an abortion.” We are all going to “die anyway.” Would you take your own life now because it will one day end? If you got a call today that your husband, sister, mother, friend… had just died, what would you give for one more hour? … Easier for who? Easier for my husband and I? To face the rest of our life with guilt, doubt, and “what if’s” instead of love, hope, and precious memories?… Easier for Micah? To be pulled from my body to die, without ever knowing embraces, kisses and the love of his family?

Amy Kuebelbeck, who rejected abortion after her son Gabriel was diagnosed with a fatal fetal anomaly, said:

Now that we’ve been through it, I believe that aborting my pregnancy would have been disastrous on many levels. Most important, it would’ve cut Gabriel’s natural life short for no good reason.

It would not have been a shortcut through our grief. If anything, our grief would have been magnified. We would have been left with only the raw pain and without the memories of our son and the time-tested rituals of grief to soften it. … [F]or that brief time, Gabriel was our life. Other than caring for our two daughters, there was nothing more important in our lives than waiting with Gabriel, giving him the full measure of our time and attention and love….

Aborting the pregnancy would have meant denying ourselves the life-changing, bittersweet, exquisite experience of holding our beautiful full–term son and hearing his cries. We didn’t realize until later how crucial and sustaining those memories would be. Ending the pregnancy early would have meant rejecting a gift.

Abortion is not justified even if the baby is going to die. It is not better for the child or for her mother and father.


  1. Rosemary Truman “A Perfect Memory of Joy, Suffering and Love” [Letter to the Editor] The Age, Melbourne, April 28, 2001, 6
  2. Melinda Tankard Reist Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (North Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex, 2006)
  3. Melinda Tankard Reist Defiant Birth 207


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