Ectopic pregnancy and direct abortion.

I am saddened that someone I know, a practicing catholic, was recently given the anti-cancer drug (mexothrate?) to “dissolve the cells” of her ectopic pregnancy.
Why am I sad? I am sad, because with our poor cathecesis growing up, she doesn’t know what the church teaching is on this. I am sad because the dignity of her unborn child was violated.I am sad because her baby did not get a chance to be baptised. I am sad because it is now the norm for Catholics to get these sort of procedures, and the message that sends out to hospital staff, espesially when a woman presents in the future, and wishes to do things differently.

Most ectopic pregnancies end up with the child dieing, its very rare that they would make it. The mother is also put at severe risk of death as well. The intent of ectopic procedures is not to kill the child, but to protect the mother with the knowledge that the child is certainly doomed as well.

Now I do not know if the Church allows only certain procedures or therapies for ectopic pregnancies, but they do allow treatment for them even if the child will die. The death of the child is more of natures fault.

I am sorry to hear this of course, I will keep the mother and child in my offerings and thoughts.

Yes, it is a shame that she did not choose the licit procedure of removing the damaged tube tissue rather than the abortive chemical option.

She may not have even been given the choice or known there were morally licit options, so sad is today’s medical ethics and catholic catechesis.

I would have to ask for something officially stating there is a difference. They both have the end effect minus surgery. A sugery that can put the person in harms way, and possible make them infertile.

In defense of the doctor, it is possible that it never even occurred to him/her that a patient would subject themselves to the risks of surgery when the exact same result would be achieved by taking a drug. I also wonder if the patient’s insurance would even cover such a procedure when a non-surgical option was available.

If she didn’t know, then she can’t be held accountable. She probably had no clue. Resolving an early ectopic pregnancy with chemicals rather than surgery is one of the gold standards of treatment more and more. This is because it is less risky than surgery and it also preserves the fallopian tube so that it can be used again later for future pregnancies. Unless you’re in a Catholic hospital, this is usually offered first, if the ectopic pregnancy is caught early enough. Taking a pill to resolve a life-threatening situation, if possible, is always medically more advantageous than surgery. Surgery itself presents it’s own risks. So it’s not a big wonder why drugs are offered first.

The Catholic Church only allows removal of the fallopian tube in the case of ectopic pregnancy. But many don’t see the difference between removing a tube and giving the medication because they both have the same exact outcome with regards to the fetus. But in the one case the fallopian tube is saved, and in the other case it is removed, in addition to the risk to the woman with surgery. But that’s a teaching of the Church.

It would almost seem that the “pro-life” approach would be medication, not surgery, given that if this happens more than once, with surgery sterility will result.

I don’t quite get it: medication, the baby dies. Surgery, the baby dies. Do nothing, the baby and mother die. Either way it isn’t a viable pregnancy. At least the medication option doesn’t harm a woman’s reproductive chances. We have a friend who had two ectopic pregnancies, with surgery in both cases, and she of course was rendered sterile and was never able to have children.

I think the Church may need to re-think this one. At least that’s how it appears to me on the surface. If there are good reasons not to, I’d like to hear them.

I agree. The old answer of, “it’s been this way for 2000 years should show you that it’s the Truth”. Well, it doesn’t. The fact that some rules are over 2000 years old only means that some of them, such as this one, need to be revisited.

Killing a baby purposely and directly is **always **a moral evil.

One may never do evil so that good may come from it. To attempt to justify an evil based on a good outcome is known as moral relativism.

It is a heresy, and it is at the root of the moral cesspool we find ourselves in today.

The Church’s teaching on the morality of killing babies is not based on preserving some arbitrary mentality of “it’s always been this way.”

Rather, the Church’s moral teaching is founded on the teachings of Christ, and morality is absolute. God’s moral law does not change because God does not change.

The Church *applies *the moral teachings handed down through God’s prophets and especially as restored through Christ’s teaching and that of his Apostles. The Church doesn’t *create *the moral law.

You have it backwards. You stated, in essence, that the Church reasons that because it’s always been this way it must be true. But, in reality, the correct way to state things is that because it’s *true *it has always been this way. It cannot be any other way.

One may never do evil even if good may come from it. To do so is moral relativism, a heretical teaching.

Probably not, because surgery costs more. My s in law had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. The falopian tube was removed because of the damage.

Yes of course, thanks :slight_smile:

Yeah, if it all possible, you want to have it taken care of before it ruptures. Surgically removing the fallopian tubes does that as well, it’s just more invasive.

The intent of the procedure is to not kill the baby, and killing another human is not always a moral evil. This is not a direct abortion on demand. I would like an official statement on this if you could.

The surgical removal of a woman’s fallopian tube during pregnancy is permissible only under the principle of double effect. St Thomas Aquinas defined the principle of double effect as follows (source:

"Classical formulations of the principle of double effect require that four conditions be met if the action in question is to be morally permissible:

first, that the action contemplated be in itself either morally good or morally indifferent;"

Giving a woman a drug which the purpose of which is to ‘resolve’ (kill) her embryo is in itself neither good nor morally indifferent, but morally wrong. There IS no circumstance which morally justifies the direct killing of an embryo - none. It is not one of the exceptions to the commandment against killing.

Surgically removing a ruptured or about-to-rupture fallopian tube, on the other hand, IS in itself morally indifferent, because one would do the same procedure whether that tube is about to rupture because of a tumor growing in it, or some other disease causing it to rupture, as well as in cases of ectopic pregnancy.

***second, that the bad result not be directly intended; *** …"

I would argue that you canNOT give a woman a pill to ‘resolve’ a pregnancy (in other words kill a baby) without directly intending to kill that baby! The killing of the baby is the drug’s sole and only use and purpose in that situation - it’s not like, for example, the woman ALSO has cancer that the drug is a legitimate treatment for.

You CAN, on the other hand, remove a fallopian tube or a uterus without directly intending to kill the baby that is within it. If the organ were rupturing, you would remove it regardless of the cause of the rupture, so the removal really is not directly related to the pregnancy.

Yet surgical procedures are improving. I was supposed to have surgery for an ectopic. It would have involved going in through a small incision in my naval, and removal of the tube. Closing would have been one or 2 stitches, and be sent home later that day.

I actually ended up not needing the surgery, I miscarried on my own.:frowning:

Methotrexate has side effects as well…

Side Effects of Methotrexate - for the Consumer
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome when using Methotrexate:

Acne; chills and fever; dizziness; flushing; general body discomfort; hair loss; headache; infertility; irregular periods; itching; loss of appetite; lowered resistance to infection; miscarriage; nausea; sensitivity to sunlight; sore throat; speech impairment; stomach pain; swelling of the breast; unusual tiredness; vaginal discharge; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur when using Methotrexate:
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black or bloody stools; blood in the urine; bone pain; calf pain/swelling; change in amount of urine; chest pain; confusion; dark urine; diarrhea; dry cough; enlarged glands; fatigue; fever or chills; inflammation of the pancreas (stomach tenderness, nausea, vomiting, fever, increased pulse rate); irregular heartbeat; mental changes; mouth sores; muscle weakness; persistent sore throat; red, swollen, or blistered skin; seizures; serious infection (herpes, hepatitis, blood infection); trouble breathing; unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual pain and discoloration of the skin

But the intent is not to kill the child, its to allow the mother to live. The drug from what I understand disolves the cells that attach it to the tube, thus allowing it to detach and die of a natural miscarriage. This would be no differant then removing life sustaining therapies such as breathing from a brain dead person who cannot breath on there own.

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fourth Edition

See paragraphs 45, 47, and 48 which make it very clear that the chemical killing of the baby is a direct abortion and always a moral evil, and that action taken on the diseased tissue of the fallopian tube is the moral alternative:

The whole point is that it’s NOT a natural miscarriage by any definition. It’s an entirely UNnatural one.

You’re not ALLOWING the embryo to detach, as if it would somehow naturally do so anyway.You are FORCIBLY and unnaturally making detachment happen at a time when it isn’t supposed to. Every bit as much forcibly and unnaturally as if you got a set of surgical forceps in there and yanked the poor embryo out of that tube.

And thus this ‘procedure’ is not morally different from any other artificially-induced abortion - for example from the taking of the pill RU486.

And it’s nothing like removing tubes from a brain-dead person. :mad: For starters the embryo is NOT brain dead, or ailing in any other way for that matter, but very much entirely alive and perfectly healthy.

It’s morally the equivalent of denying legitimate and necessary medical treatment to a PERFECTLY conscious and otherwise generally healthy person - say refusing someone an oxygen mask when they cannot breathe unaided. Or a feeding tube if the only thing wrong with them is that they cannot swallow unaided and thus cannot eat properly.

One cannot justify the denial of these sorts of treatments to someone who otherwise is in fact in perfect health, brain functioning properly and all.

The fallopian tube in this instance is not necessarily “diseased”. It’s just that the fetus became implanted in the wrong place.

I understand the moral principle involved and that morality cannot be relative. But in real life, this is sort of a “Sophie’s Choice” type of question where one is faced with an impossible moral choice.

Take for instance a woman who may already have a damaged or missing fallopian tube, and now has an ectopic pregnancy in the remaining tube. Surgery will, for all intents and purposes, render her sterile. Whether she has surgery or takes the abortifacient, the result will be the same: a dead baby. But in the latter case, at least there is a chance for a new baby.

It’s a bit like this: the moral “truth” is like a mathematical formula where 2+2 = 4. That’s an unchangeable, inviolable, rule. But let’s say you’re designing an industrial process, where you are adding two measures of one ingredient, and 2 measures of another, to create a result that will yield 4 measures of a product.

But the yield of the chemical reaction is only 80% due to inefficiencies in the process, thermal losses, leakage, etc.

The mathematical formula, 2+2=4 remains the foundational argument. But imperfections in the process mean that 2+2 will only equal 3.2, instead of 4.

And isn’t that a bit how humanity works? God teaches us a perfect moral law. But in our fallen world, we are presented with sometimes horrendous choices that we need to make and whichever choice we elect, the result will be imperfect: 2+2 = 3.2, that is to say, neither of our choices will be perfectly moral.

So, how much should we condemn someone who is faced with this form of Sophie’s Choice, and who elects the drug? Does not one have to look at the reasons for choosing the drug? They could be: preventing sterility; risk of surgery, or simply fear of surgery. Especially in the case of the woman with only one good fallopian tube facing sterility, the decision may be so heavily coloured by emotion, that the rational, moral choice is impossible to arrive at. It would seem to me then, that being so heavily clouded by emotion, the choice, while constituting an issue of grave matter, would be not based on full consent of the will and the sin would thus be venial rather than mortal.

We can kill another human in self-defense. Even if the attacker is “innocent” (say a mentally handicapped person attempting to grievously assault someone). Why is it any different in this case? Am I missing something here?

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