Abortion And Ectopic Pregnancy

#1

Hi,
I was on a message board, and the subject of abortion came up. Someone posted that the Church is against abortion in all cases, and specifically mentioned even in the event of an ectopic pregnancy. I believe they are misinformed. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, there’s no chance for the baby, and the mother’s life is endangered. Since the Church believes in the sanctity of human life, I don’t believe the Church is OK with a woman dying when her life can be saved and there is no way the baby can survive. Also, I was wondering about anencephaly and abortion. The mom’s life is not in danger usually in this situation, but the baby is either stillborn or dies shortly after birth. What is the Church’s stance on this? Also, is there any other scenario where the Church would not object to abortion? I would appreciate any input. Thank you.

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#2

Direct abortion is never acceptable. In the event of an ectoic pregnancy, you may remove the malfunctioning tube, which unfortunately also will cause the death of the baby. Other techniques, such as methotrexate or microsurgery to remove the pregnancy while leaving the tube intact are immoral.

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#3

[quote=axolotl]Direct abortion is never acceptable. In the event of an ectoic pregnancy, you may remove the malfunctioning tube, which unfortunately also will cause the death of the baby. Other techniques, such as methotrexate or microsurgery to remove the pregnancy while leaving the tube intact are immoral.
[/quote]

OK, I appreciate your taking the time to answer. That’s what I thought, although I bungled the wording. Thank you!

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#4

[quote=CherDash] Hi,
I was on a message board, and the subject of abortion came up. Someone posted that the Church is against abortion in all cases, and specifically mentioned even in the event of an ectopic pregnancy. I believe they are misinformed.
[/quote]

No, they are correct and not misinformed. Abortion is always murder. Abortion is the direct and intentional killing of the baby. The Church teaches abortion is always and everywhere wrong. It is murder.

In the case of ectopic pregnancy there are two treatments available. In one, the diseased tissue of the tube is removed. This is a medical procedure done to save the mother-- the unintended consequence is that the baby dies because we do not possess the technology to successfully move the baby to the uterus. The intent is not to kill the child. The result is that the child dies because we lack the ability to prevent it.

The second method is the adminstration of a drug that causes a chemical abortion-- it kills the baby and leaves the tube intact. This is never a morally acceptable option as the purpose is to kill the baby-- a direct action that is always wrong.

[quote=CherDash] Also, I was wondering about anencephaly and abortion. The mom’s life is not in danger usually in this situation, but the baby is either stillborn or dies shortly after birth. What is the Church’s stance on this? Also, is there any other scenario where the Church would not object to abortion? I would appreciate any input. Thank you
[/quote]

The Church objects to all abortion because it is the killing of a human being. So, in this example you cited there is no deviation from the universal teaching of the church. Abortion would be wrong in this circumstance.

In every case when you say “but what about when…” you are basically trying to say “there are some cases where it is OK to kill a baby”. This is of course absurd-- it is never OK to kill a baby.

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#5

ABORTION is NEVER acceptable. No they are not misinformed, the Catholic Church teaches the Sanctity of Life in all circumstances.

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#6

[quote=CherDash]Hi,
I was on a message board, and the subject of abortion came up. Someone posted that the Church is against abortion in all cases, and specifically mentioned even in the event of an ectopic pregnancy. I believe they are misinformed. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, there’s no chance for the baby, and the mother’s life is endangered. Since the Church believes in the sanctity of human life, I don’t believe the Church is OK with a woman dying when her life can be saved and there is no way the baby can survive. Also, I was wondering about anencephaly and abortion. The mom’s life is not in danger usually in this situation, but the baby is either stillborn or dies shortly after birth. What is the Church’s stance on this? Also, is there any other scenario where the Church would not object to abortion? I would appreciate any input. Thank you.

[/quote]

Read the fifth commandment: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
Thats pretty blunt and to the point don’t you think? :yup:

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#7

[quote=1ke]No, they are correct and not misinformed. Abortion is always murder. Abortion is the direct and intentional killing of the baby. The Church teaches abortion is always and everywhere wrong. It is murder.

In the case of ectopic pregnancy there are two treatments available. In one, the diseased tissue of the tube is removed. This is a medical procedure done to save the mother-- the unintended consequence is that the baby dies because we do not possess the technology to successfully move the baby to the uterus. The intent is not to kill the child. The result is that the child dies because we lack the ability to prevent it.

The second method is the adminstration of a drug that causes a chemical abortion-- it kills the baby and leaves the tube intact. This is never a morally acceptable option as the purpose is to kill the baby-- a direct action that is always wrong.

The Church objects to all abortion because it is the killing of a human being. So, in this example you cited there is no deviation from the universal teaching of the church. Abortion would be wrong in this circumstance.

In every case when you say “but what about when…” you are basically trying to say “there are some cases where it is OK to kill a baby”. This is of course absurd-- it is never OK to kill a baby.
[/quote]

OK, this is the info I wanted. I was looking at things the wrong way. Thank you for clearing things up.

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#8

[quote=CherDash]Hi,
I was on a message board, and the subject of abortion came up. Someone posted that the Church is against abortion in all cases, and specifically mentioned even in the event of an ectopic pregnancy. I believe they are misinformed. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, there’s no chance for the baby, and the mother’s life is endangered. Since the Church believes in the sanctity of human life, I don’t believe the Church is OK with a woman dying when her life can be saved and there is no way the baby can survive. Also, I was wondering about anencephaly and abortion. The mom’s life is not in danger usually in this situation, but the baby is either stillborn or dies shortly after birth. What is the Church’s stance on this? Also, is there any other scenario where the Church would not object to abortion? I would appreciate any input. Thank you.

[/quote]

I just had an ectopic pregnancy that thankfully resolved itself without my needing surgery. These are the options my supposedly pro-life doctor gave me (keep in mind that I was not in immediate danger of bleeding out, unlike many women who present with ectopic pregnancy) :

  1. Wait it out-- since I wasn’t in immediate danger, I had the option of resting and waiting to see if the miscarriage would progress naturally on its own, and my body would then heal itself. I had strict instructions to come to the ER immediately, should I have any symptoms of dangerous levels of internal bleeding.

  2. Go ahead and do surgery to remove the tube (or part of it), to avoid putting your life in possible danger, sort of like a preemptive strike

  3. Take the methotrexate

Of these three, in my case, the only moral choice was waiting it out. The second choice would only be morally acceptable if I was in immediate and certain danger of bleeding out without surgery (I wasn’t, praised be to Jesus). The third choice is never acceptable, for reasons already stated by other posters.

I had regular blood tests to make sure my blood count never dipped, and to test my pregnancy hormone levels to make sure I was really having a miscarriage (the doc wanted to be certain the baby hadn’t implanted on an organ outside my uterus and continued to grow, for instance).

So, contrary to what a lot of people may think, it is possible to avoid an abortion even the case of ectopic pregnancy. Intentional abortion is NEVER acceptable, a direct attack on the baby is NEVER acceptable. Also, I think I am correct in stating that by the time the surgery becomes necessary to save the mother, the tube itself has already ruptured (therefore causing the excessive bleeding), and this most always itself causes the death of the baby. If someone knows better, please correct me! :slight_smile:

Hope this helps. :yup:

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#9

While tricky in practice sometimes, I have learned that this is what moral theologians call the principle of ‘double effect.’

The primary goal of an emergency surgery on a woman with an ectopic pregnancy is to save her life (good). The action required is the surgical removal of the damaged portion of the fallopian tube (morally nuetral). An undesired, but unavoidable side effect is the death of the unborn child (morally wrong of itself). Since the death of the child is not a desired result and is not the direct cause of the desired benefit AND since both will die if the emergency surgery is not performed, the undesired side effect of the child dying is outweighed by the primary effect and means of acheiving it.

Note that this is NOT reasoning by ‘ends justify the means’ which is what underlies the chemical abortion method. That line of thinking is considered unacceptable in catholic moral theology.

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#10

Ectopic Prenancy has been discussed extensively here. A search will give you all of the information that you desire.

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#11

[quote=emsvetich]Ectopic Prenancy has been discussed extensively here. A search will give you all of the information that you desire.
[/quote]

Here is one recent thread:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=89553

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#12

[quote=1ke]In the case of ectopic pregnancy there are two treatments available. I
[/quote]

Give it about 10 more years, and there will exist option 3:

transfer the embryo to an artificial environment or attempt to re-implant it in the uterus. One can remove the part of the tube, and then attempt to save the life of the embryo once the legitimate part of the surgery is completed. Probably be a long shot, but there are many acceptabe procedures that are done that are high risk or just plain crazy. The embryo will die anyway, so a low chance is better than none at all.

My aunt was in a horible car accident in the early 80’s, and the trauma surgeon repaired the internal injuries and saved her spleen by removing it, reconfiguring the artery connections and shunts a bit, saved what he could of the spleen, and put it all back together. He told her he just made it up as he went along. Nowadays, youll find such a procedure in advanced textbooks.

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#13

[quote="manualman, post:9, topic:45307"]
While tricky in practice sometimes, I have learned that this is what moral theologians call the principle of 'double effect.'

The primary goal of an emergency surgery on a woman with an ectopic pregnancy is to save her life (good). The action required is the surgical removal of the damaged portion of the fallopian tube (morally nuetral). An undesired, but unavoidable side effect is the death of the unborn child (morally wrong of itself). Since the death of the child is not a desired result and is not the direct cause of the desired benefit AND since both will die if the emergency surgery is not performed, the undesired side effect of the child dying is outweighed by the primary effect and means of acheiving it.

Note that this is NOT reasoning by 'ends justify the means' which is what underlies the chemical abortion method. That line of thinking is considered unacceptable in catholic moral theology.

[/quote]

I am Catholic and I am familliar with the thinking behind the double effect and its implications for the use of MTX to treat an ectopic pregnancy. My qualm, however, is that recourse to MTX would help to preserve the fertility of the mother and thus allow her more certainly to respond to God's call to procreate in the future. As has been noted, the chances of an embryo surviving ectopic implantation are next to nil. Certainly God knows this and would look with favor upon a treatment that preserves the mother's life and her ability to conceive in the future, no?

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#14

[quote="DidymusMD, post:13, topic:45307"]
I am Catholic and I am familliar with the thinking behind the double effect and its implications for the use of MTX to treat an ectopic pregnancy. My qualm, however, is that recourse to MTX would help to preserve the fertility of the mother and thus allow her more certainly to respond to God's call to procreate in the future. As has been noted, the chances of an embryo surviving ectopic implantation are next to nil. Certainly God knows this and would look with favor upon a treatment that preserves the mother's life and her ability to conceive in the future, no?

[/quote]

No.

One may never do evil so that a good may come from it.

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#15

I have suffered two ectopic pregnancies, one of which occured in April 2010.

The first time, the baby miscarreid on it's own, but the placental tissue remained in my tube, and continued to grow. I contacted my parish, who contacted the diocese, which said that taking MTX to clear up placental tissue ONLY was morally permissable. My doctor didnt understand why, but I waited several days to be sure the baby had miscarried before taking the injection.

This second time, I ended up losing my tube. Again, I waited...and waited...and waited. Nothing was happening except increasing pain, so the surgeon went in laproscopically to look around.

She saw where the baby was, and saw that the tube HAD ruptured and I was bleeding out internally, although without any symptoms of such. She took out the entire tube, and baptized my little Noah right there in the operating room. Even some pro-life doctors will recommend "flushing" the baby out of the tube (thus killing it). My new doctor is fantastic, but even she couldnt understand why I would rather have had my tube removed. I INSISTED before surgery that if it was necessary to do anything, that she remove the entire tube, acting on me instead of the baby.

As it turns out, that's what she had to do anyway.

If you have more spsecific questions, contacting the Pope Paul Institute is a great thing to do. I believe women of child-bearing age need to be familiar with what is morally permissable BEFORE they get talked into something by their doctors!

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#16

[quote="1ke, post:14, topic:45307"]
No.

One may never do evil so that a good may come from it.

[/quote]

And how does this differ compared to killing in self-defense?

I fail to see how the Church, in this instance, does not make that nuance and instead issues a blanket statement that an abortifacient in the event of an ectopic pregnancy is wrong, whereas killing someone who is attacking you is permissible.

In this case the fetus is a direct threat to the life of the mother. It may be "innocent", but so too may a mentally-handicapped adult attacker. It is moral to kill the mentally-handicapped attacker to save your own life, but not a fetus? It sounds like relativism to me: one life carries greater value than the other.

Somebody help me tune my antennae here because I am having difficulty figuring this out.

And please, no "because the Church says so" answers. I want to understand why she says so.

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#17

With all due respect, and said in loving kindness, you have just compared my innocent baby Noah to a serial killer. Were you a mother in this situation, you would understand the difference QUITE clearly.

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#18

I am truly sorry if my statement offended you, but I have made no such comparison. You inferred “serial killer” from my statement, which was very specific: a mentally-handicapped, adult attacker. Could be a serial killer, could be an institutionalized person who escaped with the mental capacity of a 4-year old or it could be an adult with any one of the numerous mental disorders that can reduce or eliminate culpability from a moral point of view.

I do feel your loss, not as a mother but as a father. My wife and I also lost a baby but not due to ectopic pregnancy. We do, however have 3 healthy boys (now all in their teens and beyond).

I am trying to understand the logic without allowing emotion to cloud the issue.

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#19

No, no, I very much appreciate your apology, but you didn’t offend me! I’m saying the diffrence between the two is obvious, and I when we overthink it, we make it harder than it is!

A child inside his mother-- whether in the womb or the tube or wherever-- is incapable of intentionally inflicting harm on the mother. The child is ENTIRELY dependent upon the mother to sustain his life-- he has no independence whatsoever. The child, should he perish, is subsequently labeled an “immaculata”, meaning, clean.

An attacker-- whether Ted Bundy or the mentally handicapped adult, is NOT dependent upon his/her victim for life. The attacker, no matter how mentally handicapped, is not without sin, not without culpability. The attack is INTENTIONAL.

This is an especially interesting topic because my daughter is adopted. Her biological father IS the attacker you describe-- limited mental functioning, and yet, has physcially harmed many people (although has not killed them). There is quite a difference between this person, and my innocent baby.

Sometimes we need only have our hypothetical arguments become reality, for clarity to settle in!

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#20

There can be no claim of self defense since the baby has NO intent to kill anyone.

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