Abortion never medically necessary - Prolife OB/GYN's

…There are times when separating the mother and her unborn child is necessary to save the life of the mother, even if the unborn child is too premature to live. In those tragic cases, if possible the life of the baby will be attempted to be preserved, and if not possible, the body of the unborn child is treated with respect, recognizing the humanity of the life which is lost in the separation. …

Induced abortion, that is the deliberate killing of an unborn child prior to separating that child from the mother, is never necessary to save the life or preserve the health of any woman.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone specify that abortion only meant killing the child first and then removing it. I’ve mostly seen it used as terminating the pregnancy, which clearly happens when the child is removed. I’ve also seen the term used for miscarriage, but then it is modified by spontaneous these days.

Yes, this is my understanding of it. To perform an abortion where they actually kill the child would be like a doctor performing an assisted suicide on an adult. However, if the mother’s life is in danger, a doctor may induce labor/perform a c-section on a premature child and let nature take its course. Sometimes, a premature child can be saved, but not always.

Can you or some other poster point to some Church document that expressly describes inducing labor before viability to save the mother? I’d really like that if it could be found. Or even a fully orthodox Catholic moral theologian would be helpful. Mostly I only ever see moral theologians talk about double-effect and the removing the diseased tube scenario. Nothing about an inducing labor before viability scenario.

Which is why I posted it, as it was a somewhat novel opinion to me as well. However, it is essentially the same argument as used with ectopic pregnancies; the child is prematurely delivered when the damaged fallopian tube is removed.

I do not strongly endorse or rebuke this concept, but merely present it here for consideration. Elsewhere, this same concept seems to have been adopted by Catholic Hospitals, but what I read was to vague for me to verify.

I’ve also seen the term used for miscarriage, but then it is modified by spontaneous these days.

In strict medical terminology, abortion and miscarriage are perfect synonyms. In everyday speech, however, an abortion is assumed to be induced, while a miscarriage is assumed to be spontaneous.

I find it difficult to be sure it is the same argument. One might say induced labor is the direct removal of the child. As soon as it is “direct”, then it is easily argued to be a different animal. The whole deal with the tubal thing is it is indirect or unintended that the child is removed, and the only directly intended thing is the removal of the diseased tube.

Here is the only source that I know of for this type of stuff at the USCCB site.

[quote=Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare]45. Abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or
the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion,…


I suppose here one wonders what an “immediate effect” is. It certainly begs one to ask if the health of the mother is only fixed through the means of the removal of the child, then her health would be an effect that is one step removed, and hence not immediate? I suspect one has to evaluate in what manner the induced labor is doing its job of fixing the health issue. For years now I have wanted better answers to this question. I feel there are no guidelines that I could realistically use if someone asked me what the Catholic teaching is on this matter. It remains an unknown, functionally, to the lay.

What about certain cancers where pregnancy can accelerate the growth of cancer cells? What if they found this out when the baby was nowhere near viable?

From the same directives that I quoted before, the directives say you can have procedures and treatments for cancer in this case, so the woman could choose chemotherapy or radiation or whatever it is that they do for cancer these days. Those treatments indirectly might result in death for the child. So I know that a few women choose to wait until the child can be safely delivered.

Yes, this happened to a friend of mine who was undergoing cancer treatment. She had breast cancer, had “dose dense” chemotherapy and had just completed her radiation. She discovered she was pregnant although the doctors had told her she wouldn’t ovulate (I think??) during these treatments. She and her husband used protection just in case. At any rate, her body was still full of the effects of the chemo, and the pregnancy hormones were dangerous for her in terms of the cancer. It was a horrible, horrible situation. She had an abortion. She has never had a baby. We were only 32 years old at the time- and I know it haunts her still. But this is one -and really only one- situation where I do feel that it was safer for her life to terminate. The effects of the chemo on the developing baby would not have been good, either. It was terrible for her, I know. Especially since her husband has since divorced her, and gone on to have a family with someone else :frowning: And he is the one who is Catholic.

This is an interesting statement that I had not come across before. Of note, AAPLOG is not a Catholic organization. This is merely their opinion. One I happen to agree with. I’m not sure, however, it is consistent with Catholic teaching.

I consider myself to be a prolife OB/GYN. I have encountered situations that required delivery of a non-viable baby to save the mother’s life. One specific case I can recall - this was years ago. A patient with a placenta previa was having profound bleeding at about 20 weeks - which is pre-viable. We did our best to try and transfuse her but we were running out of blood products and had to deliver by c-section to save her life. Obviously this resulted in the death of the baby. Clearly a horrific situation. My understanding is this would have been against Catholic teaching but in accordance with the AAPLOG quote.

My gosh, that’s terrible. How is she doing now?

I would think this is much like an ectopic pregnancy. The C-section is the procedure to stop the bleed much like removing the Fallopian tube is a procedure. The baby will not live if mom bleeds to death and therefore, has a better chance outside the womb no matter how young. I have no moral problem with this case,even if the Church does.

Cancer free :slight_smile: Although she did have to have a bone marrow transplant after the breast cancer treatment which was doubly difficult. But that has also been about 6 years now, and she is doing rather well. Thanks for asking!

I agree with you although I don’t think it is quite analogous to the ectopic situation. The problem was the placenta - which is entirely fetal tissue and keeping the baby alive.

I disagree with those who say there is never a medical reason to terminate a pregnancy for the life of the mother. Theoretically we could have continued to transfuse her for the next month but there would not be enough blood and getting that much blood products has its own set of risks.

As a side note I also disagree with the Church’s stance on the use of methotrexate for a proven ectopic pregnancy. I agree that the reasoning is consistent but from a practical standpoint it just blows my mind.

Good to hear

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