Hysterectomy question

On 11/11/11 my granddaughter burst through the top of my daughter-in-law’s uterus at 25 weeks pregnancy. (Doctors say this never happens.) After 81 days in the NICU and a lot of prayer and care, she is doing wonderful. During the c-section the doctors stitched her uterus back together instead of removing it to prevent her death because they needed to stop the flow of blood. They were warned that they could absolutely not risk another pregnancy, her uterus could not maintain another baby. She had a hysterectomy this summer. The surgeon said it looked like a granade had gone off in her abdomen.
What would the church’s stand be on this hysterectomy? Thank you for your answers.


If the surgery was medically necessary, then it’s ok. Did she have the hysterectomy because she was having additional problems, or because they were told they couldn’t risk another pregnancy. If the later then they put the doctor’s advise above God’s ability to perform miracles, and that’s not ok according to the Church.

Are you asking because your DIL or son are feeling remorse? If so, I would suggest she talk to a priest, and if necessary ask for absolution and then go on with life. You can’t undo the act, but you can be remorseful and repent.

OTOH, if you are asking as a MIL who is concerned about them, I would just pray, also perhaps talk to a priest about your feelings, pray some more. Mostly, I’d enjoy that grandbaby!!! Sounds like she’s a little miracle herself!

She did nothing wrong. Her situation was indeed life threatening and she needs to be alive in order to mother her baby. Please don’t mention your concern to your dear daughter in law. I dare say that I personally don’t know one priest who would condem she and her physicians choice to have a hysterectomy.

Here is the response from the Church. And the precise explanation of why.

Now if they examined a person and found their uterus was just in pieces – that is not even a uterus at all anymore but just scattered pieces of the former organ (the doc said it was like a granade went off??) that may be a different matter…

Not addressed in the Vatican link is the case where the damage to the uterous is so severe that it poses a significant future risk to the health of the mother even if no pregnancy occurs.

Sounds like this might be the actual case for your loved one. From the logic used in the Vatican link, it sounds like this would be a moral decision.

If a hysterectomy was performed, one could reasonably assume that the uterus itself was posing a danger to the woman, in which case, removing it was a licit and moral procedure. I highly doubt that “cannot risk another pregnancy” by itself would justify such an invasive procedure, medically speaking, when most contracepting couples could opt for less drastic procedures like vasectomies or tubal ligations if mere pregnancy prevention were the objective.

I would err on the side of legitimate medical need in this case.

With a uterus damaged to this extent it was no longer a uterus that could hold a child but be a high cancer breeding ground. It was wise to have it removed.

Not the assumption to make (see the response from the Church above).

In the absence of any other evidence to the contrary, charity requires me to assume that the hysterectomy was performed under the moral condition (#1) given in the linked dubium.

It is not a question if charity requiring any assumption -but rather the evaluation of the objective nature of the act.

To say:

“If a hysterectomy was performed, one could reasonably assume that the uterus itself was posing a danger to the woman, in which case, removing it was a licit and moral procedure”

Would not be consistent with the document in question. For the very question in the document was to ask what are licit and illicit hysterectomies (answering with both affirmatives and negatives -depending on the hysterectomy).

Your desire not to assume any culpability is laudable but such does not address the objective nature of the act.

Thank you so much for your kind responses. Her hysterectomy was actually for both reasons, to end a lot of pain during menstruation and to ensure no further pregnancy. They have been through so much and are such amazing people, spouses, and parents. We were within a couple minutes of losing both of them. We know that God was with them every step of the way.

To be clear for readers: A hysterectomy as a contraceptive (prevention of a future pregnancy) is *not *morally acceptable.

(God will judge those who have been through such according to their lights at the time…and his mercy is capable of healing us even when we make wrong choice of means. Let us always seek the right means to the right end).

Agreed. Although in this case the doctor might have added “and to ensure no further pregnancy,” the moral argument would center upon the therapeutic reason: “to address the pain during menstruation that had been occurring due to the damage to the uterus”; therefore, the procedure was morally licit.

The doctor too should not intend to “ensure no future pregnancy” if there is an actual licit reason present for the operation. As to addressing pain -I leave such to the Church as to when licit etc-- but in any case one ought to contact the Paul VI institute -they are the experts and will find moral ways to address various problems.

Bookcat - I really don’t want to be argumentative but have a question, Is there not compassion in this decision. If it were your daughter, as she asked what would you recommend. This young lady suffered greatly when told that she absolutely MUST never become pregnant. Her uterus was so damaged that rupture would not be a possibility but the doctors said a certainty. She waited a year and a half to do this because it was so difficult. To make matters worse our son has Lupus and has had one life threatening infection. Their daughters need their mother and our son needs his wife. Again I don’t want to sound nasty, but I don’t understand.

I would not recommend that she commit a grave sin. So, while I would certainly encourage my daughter, sister, mother, aunt, etc, to get a medically necessary hysterectomy, which is perfectly fine, I would not encourage them to get one to sterilize themselves, which is immoral.

Then she should follow that advice and not get pregnant again. No one has indicated otherwise. A hysterectomy does not follow from that, and cannot. That is direct sterilization and is immoral.

One can refrain from becoming pregnant without removing the uterus. They are two separate things.

Again, if it was medically necessary because the uterus itself was threatening her health, she was certainly within legitimate moral territory to have it removed.

If it was not threatening her immediate health, then it was not medically necessary to remove it. If the *purpose *of removing it was pregnancy prevention, that is not moral.

I am sorry that your family has had so many medical situations to deal with recently.

Don’t understand what?

The Church there in the document and myself here for the most part --are addressing the *objective *nature of the act. What is good and moral and what is not compatible with such.

(Sometimes in the “moral theology forum” things get rather focused on the question at hand)

A person who is told they must never get pregnant again yes is to be treated personally with great great compassion and love –great great charity and supported.

Truth and charity-- truth and compassion go hand in hand.

The means though in addressing the problem have to be good. For the end does not justify the means. And objectively wrong act cannot be done for a good reason.

If the doctor said the only way to save your life is if we murder your husband --well no matter what one does not do that…

So the question is finding the right* means *–which may involve say very particular Natural Planning perhaps etc.

Certainly I too am not intending to be “argumentative” etc

Glad the little one and Mother are doing well from the birth.

Very sorry though for all these very difficult times…thank you for coming looking for the answers to your questions. With prayer for your family.

Good Grief is all I have to say. If this was my dear daughter, I would have campaigned for the hysterectomy without one thought of calling the Paul VI Institute. Nit picking on these forums sometimes gets out of control.:shrug:

Why should the evaluation of the situation to determine the morality of actions chosen within those circumstances, called nit-picking. If the the choice is immoral, will God be nit-picking if He asks for an accounting of the choice?

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