Abortion/Mother's life


#1

Two questions. I heard two different radio programs with Tim Staples about abortion and each confused me.

  1. He mentioned something about a double effect principle, and associated with it he seemed to say that in some of the cases where the mother’s life is in danger abortion, or something similar, was permitted. Earlier he had said that the mother’s life was not a consideration. What’s going on and what is the double effect principle?

  2. In another program he mentioned that we can’t abort babies when the mother’s life is in danger because we can’t kill someone else to save our own life. However isn’t it taught that we can use lethal force in self defense? (I know that Jummy Akin just confirmed this on his blog the other day.) Isn’t this a contradiction?


#2

[quote=Lazerlike42]Two questions. I heard two different radio programs with Tim Staples about abortion and each confused me.

  1. He mentioned something about a double effect principle, and associated with it he seemed to say that in some of the cases where the mother’s life is in danger abortion, or something similar, was permitted. Earlier he had said that the mother’s life was not a consideration. What’s going on and what is the double effect principle?

  2. In another program he mentioned that we can’t abort babies when the mother’s life is in danger because we can’t kill someone else to save our own life. However isn’t it taught that we can use lethal force in self defense? (I know that Jummy Akin just confirmed this on his blog the other day.) Isn’t this a contradiction?
    [/quote]

Re: 1) Ectopic pregnancy is an example of this. Removal of the embyro is necessary to save the life of the mother otherwise she will die. If the surgury isn’t performed both will surely die. Also, the fallopian tube must be removed as well, it cannot be preserved and the embryo removed. That makes it killing the embryo direct and therefore sinful.

Re: 2)The unborn child isn’t trying to kill the mother. I’m trying to think of a good analogy but I can’t right now.


#3

[quote=Bruised Reed]Re: 1) Ectopic pregnancy is an example of this. Removal of the embyro is necessary to save the life of the mother otherwise she will die. If the surgury isn’t performed both will surely die. Also, the fallopian tube must be removed as well, it cannot be preserved and the embryo removed. That makes it killing the embryo direct and therefore sinful.

[/quote]

I don’t think the actual technique used in the operation is important. If it was possible to remove the embryo (actually by the time the surgery was done it would be a fetus) without damaging the fallopian tube, that would still be OK in this case. The baby is going to die very soon even if you do nothing. The intended effect of the surgery is to save the mother’s life (and if possible preserve her reproductive tract to allow her to remain fertile). A second effect, which is foreseen as a definite but NOT INTENDED result of the surgery, is the death of the fetus.

Ectopic pregnancies are quite rare, though becoming more common due to the use of IUDs. Many ectopic pregnancies abort spontaneously.


#4

[quote=Petergee]I don’t think the actual technique used in the operation is important. If it was possible to remove the embryo (actually by the time the surgery was done it would be a fetus) without damaging the fallopian tube, that would still be OK in this case. The baby is going to die very soon even if you do nothing. The intended effect of the surgery is to save the mother’s life (and if possible preserve her reproductive tract to allow her to remain fertile). A second effect, which is foreseen as a definite but NOT INTENDED result of the surgery, is the death of the fetus.

[/quote]

The technique DOES matter. You cannot remove just the fetus - that would be a direct abortion. You can remove the damaged fallopian tube (or part of it) and have the unintended effect (although forseen) of killing the fetus. You likewise cannot give the mother a drug that will kill the fetus and expel it. The intended effect of saving the mother’s life is only half of the equation. You also have to not be acting directly to kill the baby. The only time you can remove just the baby is if there is confirmation that the baby has already died.


#5

[quote=kmktexas]The technique DOES matter. You cannot remove just the fetus - that would be a direct abortion. You can remove the damaged fallopian tube (or part of it) and have the unintended effect (although forseen) of killing the fetus. You likewise cannot give the mother a drug that will kill the fetus and expel it. The intended effect of saving the mother’s life is only half of the equation. You also have to not be acting directly to kill the baby. The only time you can remove just the baby is if there is confirmation that the baby has already died.
[/quote]

That seems very odd to me.

If the baby could be removed (killed, whatever) without damaging the fallopian tube, and without that surgery baby will still die along with mom, it would seem to be preferable from a pro-life standpoint than taking out the part of the tube that “happens” to have the baby in it like, whoops! We didn’t mean to kill it. Is the removal of the fallopian tube necessary for medical reasons, or is it also necessary to make the unfortunate and necessary ending of a baby’s life look like it was an accident. If the latter, then that is weird because we have unnecessary destruction to the reproductive system of the mother, thus reducing further opportunities for a baby. :ehh:

Alan


#6

Please read this post from EWTN:

ewtn.com/vexperts/showresult.asp?RecNum=424687&Forums=10&Experts=0&Days=2005&Author=&Keyword=priestsfor&pgnu=1&groupnum=0&record_bookmark=7&ORDER_BY_TXT=ORDER+BY+ReplyDate+DESC&start_at=


#7

[quote=AlanFromWichita]That seems very odd to me.

If the baby could be removed (killed, whatever) without damaging the fallopian tube, and without that surgery baby will still die along with mom, it would seem to be preferable from a pro-life standpoint than taking out the part of the tube that “happens” to have the baby in it like, whoops! We didn’t mean to kill it. Is the removal of the fallopian tube necessary for medical reasons, or is it also necessary to make the unfortunate and necessary ending of a baby’s life look like it was an accident. If the latter, then that is weird because we have unnecessary destruction to the reproductive system of the mother, thus reducing further opportunities for a baby. :ehh:

Alan
[/quote]

It’s not about making it look like an accident. That would be…odd. Preserving the tubes while removing the embryo is what makes it a direct abortion. When the tube is also removed the abortion is indirect.

I think you are making this more complicated and it’s really quite straight forward.


#8

This topic has been discussed at length in many threads in the moral theology area. To answer the original poster, in very simple terms, the Principal of Double Effect says that you can do a good thing, that has an UNINTENDED bad effect, to acomplish a good end. You can NOT do a bad thing to accomplish a good thing, thus direct abortion which is always wrong, can’t be allowed even to save the mother’s life. Other medical treatments which don’t directly attack the baby are allowed because they are an unintended side effect of the needed medical treatment. (for example, chemo-therapy to kill the cancer kills the baby too) Self defense isn’t the same thing, because an agressor is purposely trying to hurt you, but a baby growing inside you is a innocent.

The real reason it is so hotly debated is that it isn’t very hard to come up with specific cases where one or more of the requirements isn’t crystal clear. Thus even educated theologians can have differing opinions about specific cases. But the Church wisely has no official position on specific cases, only the principal itself. The ideal solution to the problem of these specific cases would be for doctors to spend some time figureing out how to safely remove and transplant the baby to a better location (ie the mother’s uterous) Frankly, since they seem to be so successful doing IVF I wouldn’t think it’d be that big of a step for them.


#9

[quote=Bruised Reed]It’s not about making it look like an accident. That would be…odd. Preserving the tubes while removing the embryo is what makes it a direct abortion. When the tube is also removed the abortion is indirect.

I think you are making this more complicated and it’s really quite straight forward.
[/quote]

I don’t see what’s so straightforward about doing more damage than necessary to the woman “just” so that it isn’t “direct.” If the surgery requires it, that’s a different story, but if the technology exists to remove the baby without damaging the tube then we can’t use because it’s immoral? That sounds “crazy” to me, not “straight forward.”

I guess I’ll take your word for it that I’m making it too complicated. I’ve been getting lots of negative feedback lately so I won’t ask further.

Alan


#10

[quote=AlanFromWichita]I don’t see what’s so straightforward about doing more damage than necessary to the woman “just” so that it isn’t “direct.” If the surgery requires it, that’s a different story, but if the technology exists to remove the baby without damaging the tube then we can’t use because it’s immoral? That sounds “crazy” to me, not “straight forward.”

I guess I’ll take your word for it that I’m making it too complicated. I’ve been getting lots of negative feedback lately so I won’t ask further.

Alan
[/quote]

Sometimes it takes awhile for things to sink in and for me to understandthings without thinking,“Bu…how abou…?” with different facets of what ever subject it is. If this were me I would leave it alonefor a while and let the crud clear and I would ask God for understanding.

Well, since this is part me I will seek greater understanding so that I may better articulate myself on this subject. 'Kay?

Sorry you are feeling put out today. I’ve enjoyed watching you grow in your understanding of the faith and I appreciate your honesty and humor.


#11

The problem is that the baby is attached to the tube…implanted/grown into the fallopian tube. The whole thing comes out as a unit. To take one is to take the other.

If one were to find a way to remove just the child, one would have to try everything possible to save his life. One day this may be a possibility…and both the child and mother would live. :dancing:


#12

[quote=Catilieth]The problem is that the baby is attached to the tube…implanted/grown into the fallopian tube. The whole thing comes out as a unit. To take one is to take the other.

If one were to find a way to remove just the child, one would have to try everything possible to save his life. One day this may be a possibility…and both the child and mother would live. :dancing:
[/quote]

It is possible to save the fallopian tube if it has not ruptured. It is the rupture that is so dangerous to the mother. And the embryo can be removed without removing the tube which is the wrong technique.


#13

Why don’t they try to implant the baby into the uterus?..it should be primed for implantation.


#14

[quote=Catilieth]Why don’t they try to implant the baby into the uterus?..it should be primed for implantation.
[/quote]

Unfortunately, the uterus is only able to accept the embryo for a finite amount of time. Usually when it is discoverd that the pregnancy is ectopic, the window of opportunity for the embryo to implant in the uterine wall has closed. Additionally, the embryo is extraordinarily fragile at this stage and it would be very difficult to remove from the fallopian tube without injuring or killing it.


#15

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