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)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
"Every child has a right to life. Every child," O'Sullivan said.