pro-life apologist has this to say about ectopic pregnancies

For any of you who have followed some of the crazy teachings from the fringe groups regarding ectopic pregnancies and being “truly pro-life,” here is what pro-life apologist and president of the Life Training Institute, Scott Klusendorf, had to say:

“Any pro-life group that tell you that “truly pro-life” means taking no action on ectopic pregnancy is full of nutcases. Ignore them. With EP, the developing human embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, usually on the inner wall of the fallopian tube. This is an extremely dangerous situation for the mother. When the EP outgrows the limits of the narrow fallopian tube enclosing it, the tube bursts resulting in massive internal hemorrhaging. In fact, EP is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death during the first trimester. The accepted medical protocols in this case are to end the pregnancy through chemical (Methotrexate) or surgical intervention, with surgery being the superior treatment of choice. There is no way the developing human can survive EP. If the mother dies from internal bleeding, the embryo dies also, given he’s too young to survive on his own. At the same time, the limits of current medical technology do not allow transfer to a more suitable environment. Despite out best intentions, we simply can’t save the child.

What is the greatest moral good we can achieve in this situation? Is it best to do nothing and let two humans (likely) die or is it best to act in such a way that we save one life even though the unintended and unavoidable consequence of acting is the death of the human embryo?

Pro-life advocates almost universally agree we should do the latter: It is better to save one life than lose two. Notice, however, the intent of the physician is not to directly kill the embryo, but to save the mother’s life. The unintended and unavoidable consequence of that life-saving act is the death of the embryo. Perhaps in the future we can transplant the embryo to a more desirable location. If that day comes, we should do that. But for now, ending the pregnancy is our only course of action. If we do nothing, both mother and child die. It’s best that one should live. But again, notice the intent in ending the pregnancy is to save the mother, not directly and purposefully kill the child.”

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  1. says

    This has been what I’ve heard by prolife activists for the past two decades — when two lives are immediately threatened, you take all actions to save the life/lives you can. Sometimes the unavoidable and unintended effect is the loss of one life. . .

    Medical ethics require this.

  2. Rebecca says

    I am sad and happy to have found you. Sad in that you take extreme cases and tie them in with good guys doing good work – trying with all their mightm to turn this nation around.

    Happy to listen to your view which opposes my own and to find that I am firm and immovable in my convictions. I know some who only get confused about what they believe when they hear an opposing view.

    I feel you are divisive and way off. How you can truly look at the godly lives of men who lead their families in righteousness as best they know how and demonize them by using bad examples is very sad to me.

    Just thought I would let you know that someone out there who stumbled onto your pocasts is troubled by what you are wrongfully
    albeit eloquently proclaiming.

  3. says

    Rebecca, I wasn’t sure if you posted this in the correct spot or not. I am confused as to whom you are referring if it has to do with this post. Please explain. I would also welcome any discussions you might have about anything I have quoted or written about. I would like to see an example of where I “look at the godly lives of men who lead their families in righteousness as best they know how and demonize them by using bad examples is very sad to me.” Usually I examine the teachings themselves and always provide quotes. Please allow me to correct anything I might have said that was incorrect.

  4. Rebecca says

    I am sorry, I was just quick to speak and foolishly so. I didn’t even consider that I should stay with post content. I came across your podcasts and listened to the patriarchy series. I support Kevin Swanson (although I would agree that his delivery could use some softening). I also support Vision Forum and the good work they do. I am an Above Rubies supporter as well. All these support what you call the patriarchy movement. I for one am glad to see men starting to step up and lead their families. Of course, there will be those who abuse the position that God has given them, but on the whole, I am not finding that to be the case. Chrisitans have long been found to abuse others in the name of God, but we don’t throw out our faith in Him because of those transgressions of history and present. I just found what you had to say to be horribly slanted against the movement that I believe with all my heart is a godly move of the Holy Spirit, to raise up a generation of strong believers who have some moral standards and are going to be willing to go to bat for the freedoms that we are losing by the day.

  5. Jack Brooks says

    Yes,k Rebecca, but Karen over the months has supplied actual evidence of false teachings from the sources you say you like, to furnish evidentiary support for her opinions. Can you show that her various quotations (from patriarchalist podcasts, books, magazine articles, lectures, and so on) never happened, or have been misquoted?

  6. Lois Brown Loar says

    Rebecca, I wholeheartedly agree with you that Christian men DO need to step up and lead their families in godly living! We are far short on real men who truly love and serve their families and the body of Christ. But, there are ways to do that that do not involve harsh authoritarianism and strict rules, but grace and loving guidance.

    Since Karen has done the work of the scriptural study, I will mention the fruit. Jesus said that by their fruits you shall know them. Over 30 years ago, my young husband and (young) I sat under just this type of teaching. We had many friends in our “movement” of the time and we were all trying so hard to do the will of God as taught by our leaders, that we far too often didn’t seek God for ourselves, we read the Bible through the lens of our leaders’ teaching, and we read only the other books they recommended. Many of us practiced a “Pearl-like” disciplinary method. And all of us have children in their 30’s or approaching their ’30’s.

    IF the results taught by such teachers were accurate, we should be seeing a MUCH different “fruit” in the church today! Many of us left the movement with deep wounds and some are even yet, still healing. Many of us have or have had children who rejected us AND God through the harsh authoritarianism that resulted from those teachings.

    If it were true that if we followed those teachings, that we would see God move on us and our children, our children move into leadership positions in our towns, states, and country, and “bring America back to God!”

    The fruit is not there. I wish it were! I wish that I could have a plan that if I followed it, I would see the results of happy, healthy adult children with no baggage, leading the world to Christ. But in this country, we are seeing abortion as a “norm”, homosexuality blatantly advertised and encouraged, growing apostasy in the church. Where is the fruit promised 35 years ago? Things are much worse than then! Prayer not allowed at a veteran’s military funeral?

    I am in a bit of a unique position as a mother of 12, with a 5 year separation between child #6 and child #7….I call them my two 6-packs….

    The older six spent most of their childhood in the authoritarian teaching. Of them, only 2 did not out right rebel against their upbringing and continued to follow God into adulthood. Three more have returned, 2 quite recently, to faith. One is still out their embracing her sinful lifestyle.

    Of the younger six, brought up in a very conservative, but much more grace-filled upbringing, I see much less anger and rebellion toward God, more consistency in their relatioinship with Him, and much more desire to know Him. Now the jury is still “out” on their adulthood, as only 2 of them are adults just yet, but four are teens, and frankly, they are easy teens….so far…;-).

    Among my friends who have children the ages of my older children, there are many who have walked away from God, from parents, embracing godless lifestyles, because the God they were taught was full of rules without grace, strictness without close affection, provoked to anger(Eph. 5), and generally unhappy. And certainly not “taking America back to God!”

    So, dear sister Rebecca, I would urge you to never swallow everything hook, line, and sinker that anyone teaches. Not me, not Karen Campbell, not Kevin Swanson, no Bill Gothard, not Rob Bell……etc….. TEST all these teachers/teachings by the scriptures. In James, God tells us that if we seek Him for answers, He will give them to us. (Go read that!) Read the scriptures for yourself and ask God for His wisdom. Read “proof texts” of other teachers in their context and for the meaning that God gives you.

    I am not saying to be unsubmissive, just be a Berean. BTW, I was married nearly 30 years before I heard a preacher teach the scriptures about husbands loving their wives and laying down his life for as Christ loved and laid down His life for the Church. But, oh, so many times, I heard the teachings of submission and obedience. I believe that I am a “submissive” wife, though not perfectly, as none of us is perfect. But, my husband considers me his partner, in truth. And never, ever lords his “authority” over me.

    I would just urge you to get out a concordance or good Bible study software(you can get several for free online…I use e-sword, my hubby likes “the word”, a good study Bible, and some time alone with God.

    God Bless You, Sister Rebecca

  7. James Lansberry says

    A view from the other side on the post topic (and if a discussion breaks out I’m not likely to see it, sorry).

    I am convinced that God has left us with a way to save children who are conceived and which implant ectopically. Years ago we would have, as a society, said it was impossible to fly. Centuries ago, breech babies were a near death sentence to the mother. The problem is that as long as we believe the medical community (and why is a profession that as a whole supports abortion and opposes the Christian worldview to be trusted?) in their assertion that there’s no way to save the child in an EP, no one will look for a solution. Loving both mother and child means that we don’t do nothing, and we don’t rush into a chemical abortion that actively causes the death of the child.

    Is the mother’s life in danger? In some or even many cases yes. Though we had an obstetrician tell my wife her life was in danger JUST FOR CONCEIVING A CHILD AFTER 35. So what’s the answer here? First, I don’t believe we should accept the party line. It’s not that long ago that the party line was that African Americans were not fully human. So let’s, just for the sake of the children and mothers involved question the assertion that there’s no way to save the chid. In my limited medical knowledge I can imagine a couple of ways we might find to reimplant the child in the womb, safely for both mother and child. Is it risky? Sire it is. But is the risk worth possibly saving a child’s life? My wife and I both earnestly believe it is. And historically, many currently routine life saving procedures were at one time outside the norm of medical practice and much riskier than today.

    Now if one is convinced that our loving, sovereign, all wise God has not left us with any other option than killing the child, then my thoughts here are controversial. But if one believes that perhaps we should try something different because God gives new discoveries in His providence frequently, and that He surely will allow us to discover a way to save the child without harming the mother, well then there’s nothing controversial here at all. I don’t know about the “fringe” people that mom is referring to, but I’m merely advocating for a reasoned, non-reactionary dialog that at least admits God has, just maybe, not given a death sentence to all children conceived ectopically.

    So that’s the view from the other side of the issue.

  8. judi says

    I recently read a nasty, vindictive blog post written by a pro-choice writer that criticized the Santorums for allowing their OB to induce labor at 19 weeks gestation to save Mrs. Santorum’s life. They said that Rick Santorum is a hypocrite for opposing everyone’s abortion except his wife’s. What the Santorum’s did wasn’t an abortion. The child was delivered alive and whether he lived or died was left in the hands of God. He died, they named him and gave him a Catholic burial (they are Catholic). The blogger said, “They named IT Matthew..” Emphasis mine. The majority of pro life activists support actions like what the Santorums did and ending ectopic pregnancies to save the life of the mother. Pro choice activists try to paint us all with the same brush and claim we hate women. I wonder if the minority that oppose treating ectopic pregnancies the standard way are feeding those pro choice lies?

  9. Lois Brown Loar says

    While I thoroughly agree that medical research should be done to attempt to save the lives of children conceived ectopically, the problem is there is no heart to do so amongst those with the skill and knowledge. The other problem is, that many don’t find out they have an ectopic pregnancy until the fallopian tube has burst or is about to burst. If it bursts, I suspect that the baby has already lost its blood supply and may have already passed away. It would seem important to develop the technology to diagnose earlier as well. It’s just a very sad situation, indeed, for all.

  10. Laura says

    Lois, you make excellent sense. I too have a big family-11-and a huge range in age-27 years -between oldest and youngest.

    Fortunately, in our early days as Christians, though we were around a lot of hard line patriarchal, ATI type teaching and families, we were always kind of on the fringe in some respects. However, I too have seen many sad things in recent years among some of the most exemplary families, involving kids rejecting God, parents divorcing, and the like. Women who were held up as role models of “submission”, it turned out, were living lives of despair at the hands of power hungry husbands using doctrine like a choke collar to bully them and their children.

    It is so clear that to lead we must serve….men and women alike. Though my older children do not agree with us on all matters theological OR political, they all love God and love others and I am so thankful for this. I agree with you, Lois, that it has been quite a journey to raise many children while embarking on such a journey of faith and discovery. Don’t forget that our all compassionate Father is looking after your older daughter and that the things you taught her when she was tiny are still hidden within her heart.You have been granted the gift of much wisdom to share with some of the younger moms… Blessings, Laura

  11. Roni says

    @ James Lansberry. Breech birth was never a death sentence for the mother, although it was slightly more dangerous for the baby. If the baby got stuck, there were ways to remove the infant without killing the mother. Because of the lack of C-sections, midwives and doctors were skilled in the techniques for breech birth. It has only been the last couple of years that breech births have been considered abnormal by the medical community. Breech was considered a variation of normal centuries ago and in many places around the world being born breech is considered lucky.

    Also, I think the biggest barrier to saving ectopic pregnancies is how to transplant a fragile baby without interrupting the blood supply for too long. The baby is growing so rapidly that any interruption in blood supply could cause severe problems. And at that stage, the baby is too fragile to withstand direct surgery. I’ve seen a picture of a baby pulled from an ectopic pregnancy enclosed in its sack still alive and kicking. Even though it was handled very gently, the sack split within seconds and the baby died instantly. I think the only way an ectopic pregnancy could possibly be saved was if it was discovered very very early before any symptoms were even present. I think what many people don’t realize is that the massive hemorrhaging that can happen in a ruptured ectopic pregnancy comes because the placental blood flow is interrupted. The placenta produces hormones that greatly increase blood flow and the formation of new blood vessels. This is the biggest hurdle that has to be overcome in saving these pregnancies. It is not a simple matter of just transferring the pregnancy to the uterus. They would have to figure out how to grow new blood vessels and increase blood flow in the uterus without the help of the hormones of the placenta. Only after the blood flow was adequate could they transfer the embryo with any chance of survival.

  12. says

    Hi James,

    I am glad you shared your perspective but I am wondering how you actually see your convictions working out in real life. Let’s say that T. experiences a tubal pregnancy. What practical steps would you take? How would you determine when it was possible for a doctor to intervene or would you? What sort of steps have you planned ahead of time for dealing with this sort of time sensitive situation? What if you could not find a doctor who would go along with your desires? Since there is no such experimentation going on in our area, that I know of, what would that mean in real life? I am trying to think this through. Praying for a safe and soon delivery for you all this week, btw!

  13. says

    Rebecca, since you mentioned two names from the patriocentric movement whose writings and teachings have been examined here, Doug Phillips and Kevin Swanson, I would like to let you know that I have documentation for every quote and teaching of theirs that has been addressed. Let me know any particular concerns and I am happy to show you the links.

    You mentioned that you felt that I had “taken extreme cases and tied them in with good guys doing good work – trying with all their might to turn this nation around.”

    I fully agree that our nation is in dire straights. Between the state of the economy, the current administration’s policies that are outrageously anti-life and anti-family and the state of so much of the church today that doesn’t care (and in some cases contributes to the insanity)things are a mess! I think that you and I would most likely find little to disagree on if we started to identify those problems. It is in the solutions that I differ with these men.

    I spent many years (about 25) rubbing up against the patriocentric movement and have seen both the good and bad fruit of it. I know there are many lovely families, including those in the homes of some in the patriarchy leadership. But there are also commendable Mormon families and Islamic families. What matters at the heart of all the solutions for fixing these problems is whether or not the Gospel is truly being proclaimed and if the Scripture is being examined and interpreted and applied faithfully.

    Central to the problem within the patriocentric movement is the idea that ONLY THEIR interpretation MUST be applied to all of us. There is no room for disagreement. In fact, Doug Phillips has called patriarchy central to the “grand sweep of revelation.” That says to me that he believes it is equal to the Virgin Birth and the resurrection. At the 2009 Indianapolis Homeschool Leadership Summit, Phillips outlines an agenda for ALL homeschoolers that included making sure ALL homeschoolers are in family integrated churches and ALL daughters remained home until given in marriage. That agenda is being carried out at the state level now as many state groups are aligning themselves with it, eliminating certain speakers from their speaker’s bureaus, and censoring curriculum, not allowing anything they disagree with to enter a convention hall. In 27 years of homeschooling, I have never seen anything like what is currently happening and Doug Phillips and Kevin Swanson are behind much of it. There will continue to be pushing back as this agenda moves forward. Sadly, many lovely Christian families are caught in the middle and don’t realize what this can mean for homeschoolers. More and more people, as they are subjected to this movement, are concerned about where homeschooling is headed and even government officials are starting to take notice and talk about restricting homeschooling freedom. They will end up bringing down the very movement many Godly parents pioneered so long ago if they go unchecked.

    I would encourage you to read my series of articles on the Family Integrated Church and the article on True and False Teachers. I would ask you to apply the principles that are recommended (not just by me) for studying these things on our own. I ALWAYS recommend this. I encourage others to invest in Greek and Hebrew word study books and to become students of the Word. When have you heard either Swanson or Phillips recommend that? When have you seen any of the patriocentrists selling Bible study helps (not commentaries but books for self-study) on any of their websites? When have you heard any of them admonish women to become students of theology?

    Maybe this will help you see that I am only trying to challenge others to be discerning and study for themselves!

  14. Rebecca says

    Thank you for the links to your family integrated articles. I will check those out. Thank you also, for your thoughtful response. You returned love for anger. I am sorry. I merely became alarmed and offended when you seemingly attacked those I deeply respect. It appears I have some homework to do although I still have great faith in the heart of the movement and hope for the future generations coming out it. Yet, you are ever so right in that we must be discerning. Wise as serpents but gentle as doves. I am afraid I was not gentle in my reproach. I ask you to forgive me. You will not find anymore ugliness from me again. May God bless you and give you wisdom as you do have a voice out there and people are listening to you and will be influenced by the things you say. May He guide your heart and words and lead you in His plan for your life.

  15. says


    If you would like to hear one persons personal experience with Kevin Swanson, his church and CHEC please feel free to send me a personal email. I can give you my story. I can also put you in contact with other single mom’s that have left his church because of abuse.

    I took many of these concerns directly to Kevin and the elders. They refused to address the issues or dialogue with me directly. The last time I spoke with them they demanded that I answer their questions directly. After I gave them direct answers I asked them a few simple questions of my own. They hung up on me, twice.

    You can get my story and then go directly to Kevin and get his if you would like. I have evidence and audio to back up my accusations. Unfortunately, he never bothers to back up his.


  16. says

    Karen, thank you for posting this. It is very encouraging to see such clear statements coming from Christian leaders within the pro-life movement. As you know, I’ve been in the position where my pregnancy threatened my life and my husband and I made the gut-wrenching, soul-shredding decision to induce labor at 20 weeks, 5 days. We LOVED our daughter and we love her still. But something Doug Phillips and his ilk seem to forget is that the Mother is a life too- and her life matters just as much as that little baby’s. What sense is there in letting both baby AND mother die? To me, it demonstrates Phillips’ true feelings about the value of a woman’s life. I also wonder what he would do if it was HIS wife, mother of his eight children, dying on the table to save the life of a baby who couldn’t live if she died.

    @Judi- I had no idea the Santorums went through such a horrible ordeal. I know what its like. But I would answer any pro-choice person attacking Santorum’s alleged “inconsistency” by saying that he is actually more consistently pro-life than those who say they oppose all abortions, even when in the cases where the life of the mother is at risk. He is consistent because he values the mother’s life as much as the baby’s.

  17. says

    Rebecca, finding your sweet and humble comment blessed me so much this morning. I love it when believers are able to reason together and exhort one another!

  18. says

    Roni, can’t believe how much I learned in your comment! In spite of some of the issues within the medical community regarding the sanctity of life, I have always been so grateful for the doctors and other medical people who have cared for me during my pregnancies and deliveries. I remember how wonderful my very pro-life doctor was when we lost a baby through ectopic pregnancy and how he purposed to protect my fertility as well as possible. Through God’s sovereignty and His grace to us and our doctor, our youngest was born after that experience.

  19. says

    “But I would answer any pro-choice person attacking Santorum’s alleged “inconsistency” by saying that he is actually more consistently pro-life than those who say they oppose all abortions, even when in the cases where the life of the mother is at risk. He is consistent because he values the mother’s life as much as the baby’s.”

    Jennifer, this is EXACTLY correct. One of the biggest criticisms of pro-lifers is that we don’t care for the mothers as much as we care for the babies. I hate to see their view of us validated.

  20. Theresa says


    Thanks for the blessings on labor and delivery. I am so looking forward to meeting our little one!

    I’ll take the question for James about what we would do if I were to have an ectopic pregnancy. I am ‘high risk’ for this, so I have thought about it. As pro-life Christians, we do understand the decision is being made to kill the baby to save the mother, and I appreciate that this discussion has been framed in those terms.

    I would try to find a doctor willing to do something to save the baby, even if it had never worked before (slit and cauterize the tube to allow the baby to grow into the abdomen mimicking what has happened ‘naturally’ in a couple of cases, or transfer tube to uterus) If no doctor were willing to try something, then I would wait and pray. Yes, there is risk of dying. There is also a chance God would choose a different path. Statistically speaking, I don’t know of any studies even guessing how big a ‘risk’ this is. But for me, I will put the unknown in God’s hands rather than take the sure thing.

  21. Paula says

    My cousin died at age 35 due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. She and her husband had no idea she was even pregnant. She collapsed in the kitchen after finishing a cup of coffee with her husband. They discovered the cause of death at the autopsy.

    It can and does happen.

  22. says

    Theresa- you are missing the point. The decision is NOT to kill the baby to save the life of the mother. That suggests a deliberate intention to kill and that would be murder. The actual decision is to save the life of the mother by interrupting the pregnancy. The unintended consequence is the death of the baby. I know it seems like splitting hairs but the distinction is very important.

    My friend Anne addressed this issue a few years ago on our old blog:

    God bless!

  23. Jack Brooks says

    The Scripture permits three exceptions to the sixth commandment: to protect and preserve a life; as a punishment for crime; and in war. Stopping an ectopic pregnancy falls under the first exception.

  24. Jessica says

    I just wanted to post that I have one child. Last year I had an ectopic pregnancy and was in severe pain. I was given the Methotrexate shot after I was assured by my Doctor that the baby would not survive, but that we would save my life and also my fertility. I was only 5 weeks along. The same day as the shot my fallopian tube ruptured, but I was already in so much pain I did not realize. Three days later I underwent surgery to save my life from the internal bleeding. If the options were not available to me I would have died. My Daughter would not have her Mother.

  25. says

    Jessica, I am so sorry for your loss and that you had this experience. I share this experience as well and there are multiple aspects to the grief…first, the loss of the baby, second, the possible loss of fertility, the near death experience and the fear of bleeding to death and having little ones at home,as well as the guilt I believe all women experience on one level when they lose a child. If you add to that the needless guilt brought on by those who believe we committed a sin by saving our own lives, it can be unbearable. Christians who think women should not take action in these circumstances should know better than to add their own spin to this!

  26. says

    I would be honored to have you take a look at my research into this topic. I have discovered more than 400 cases of live birth from ectopic pregnancies which have been reported in medical journals, and by my calculations, there is a 25% chance that an ectopic pregnancy which is permitted to continue to term will result in a live birth. I have further discovered that there is a greater than 96% likelihood that the mother will also survive.

    You can find my research on my website at:


  1. […] Yes, you heard him correctly: mothers who abort a non-viable ectopic fetus are apparently murderers and, in Phillips’ “perfect” world governed by Old Testament law, would be executed. Thus, we should, when faced with a decision between two innocent lives, one of which is unable to be saved, apparently choose to lose both lives even though it is completely unnecessary to do so. We should also not consider the fact that, since Phillips advocates for large families, those mothers who might be inclined to follow his advice will probably already have at least one or two children – children who would be left without their primary caregiver and likely distraught after their mother’s completely preventable death. Needless to say, mainstream pro-life activists are horrified by Phillips’ position.[5][6] […]

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