O'Sullivan expressed doubt that the statistics Hern quotes were entirely accurate.
"There are still issues with proper recording of maternal deaths," she said. "We're getting better, but we're very poor at that in the United States. And also, what we call a 'maternal death' might be a different definition than other countries may use. So we have to be careful with that too."
In addition, the statistics Hern used to demonstrate the "safety" of abortion procedures did not include adequate follow-ups on the women it studied, she added, meaning there may have been deaths or complications later on that the study missed.
O'Sullivan pointed out that throughout her medical career, she has aided women through many difficult pregnancies, and had never once had to perform an abortion.
"Abortion is not absolutely indicated under any circumstances," she said.
There are occasions, she clarified, when a lifesaving procedure for a mother may indirectly result in a child's death, but this is not the same as an abortion. An example, she said, could be the situation of a severe hemorrhage in a mother's placenta, known as Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).
"In that case, we have to deliver the placenta," she explained.
"The secondary thing that's going to happen is that that baby is not going to survive...the intent is not to kill the baby, but the intention is to remove the placenta. So in that case, yes, if you do not deliver her, [the mother] could well die."
Even a situation like DIC is extremely rare, she reiterated.
"The most important thing is that pregnancy is generally followed by a very good, healthy outcome for both mother and baby," she concluded. "And with good medical care, even better."
Users who left comments on the New York Times website argued that all successful abortion procedures, even if they may be "safer" for the mother, result in the death of the unborn child.
(Story continues below)
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"Every child has a right to life. Every child," O'Sullivan said.
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer. He is based in St. Louis.