Many strong opinions exist about how and when abortion should happen. There is general agreement, however, that abortion is acceptable when medical issues justify it. A variety of medical problems may lead to an abortion, including an impending miscarriage, birth defects or the pregnancy posing a serious danger to the mother's health or life.
There are instances in pregnancy when it is clear a miscarriage is going to happen. Typically within the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, this most often occurs when no fetal heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound or heartbeat monitor. Another sign is that blood levels of HCG begin to decline because the fetus is no longer living. Once it is determined that a miscarriage will happen, some women elect to have the fetus removed via abortion, in order to not put their body through the miscarriage process. A miscarriage carries a greater physical risk to a woman's health than an abortion, and can result in medical complications including hemorrhage, infertility, products of conception being left in the uterus and extensive pain.
Modern medical technology allows for the detection of birth defects during pregnancy. Through ultrasound, blood tests and amniocentesis, a pregnant woman can find out if her fetus is at risk for birth defects, and in many cases get a definitive answer of what those defects are. In cases where it is determined there is a birth defect or a high risk, some women choose to opt for an abortion, to avoid the suffering the child will experience as a result of their birth defects. In more severe birth defect cases, such as Trisomy 13 and Potter's Syndrome, the baby would die either during or immediately after birth, having no chance of survival.
Danger to Mother's Health
Medical conditions can arise during pregnancy that may pose a danger to the mother's life. Some of these conditions may result from the pregnancy itself, while others may be medical problems that require immediate treatment that cannot be done while pregnant. For example, if aggressive cancer is discovered during pregnancy, it may be necessary to treat the cancer immediately, posing a danger to the fetus. Some women may opt for abortion in order to receive treatment that could save the woman's life. Continuing the pregnancy in some of these instances could result in death, stroke or infertility for the mothers. This is common in cases in which the fetus has already died in-utero.