Inducing Labor for a Stillborn Fetus?

On another forum I frequent (a rather liberal one) I brought up a plea for people to fight FOCA and thankfully some people were able to see it for what it was and agreed to sign the petition against it. Of course this led to a debate on abortion and one person sent me a private message saying that my arguments had completely made them reconsider their support for abortion

Anyway, they also brought up this question and I had no answer for them and was hoping some of you might:

PS - I do have one question for you. My mom was pregnant with my little sister who was stillborn (I still refer to her as my sister, as, like I said, I am Christian and I do believe that we’ll be together someday). She and my dad chose to have Erin (my sister) induced, especially as it was also affecting my mom’s health, and there was just no hope for Erin - she was dead in the womb. The issue is that the Catholic hospital around here refused to do it, because it was against their moral beliefs. Do you have any thoughts on that (that you’d care to share)?

I don’t know how this would in any way be against Catholic ethics. If the child was already dead there was nothing wrong with inducing labour, particularly if the dead fetus was affecting the mother’s health.

OTOH, when I went to a Catholic hospital with bleeding in the first 8 weeks of my pregnancy they waited 2 or 3 days and performed 2 pregnancy test to first determine if I was still, in fact still pregnant. Two consecutive negative tests told them it was ok to do a D&C.

I find the quoted statement as odd. If the child had died in the mother’s womb, then the fetus was no longer alive, nor viable, therefore the procedure would not have been an “abortion”, but instead a medical procedure to remove the deceased fetus to protect the future health of the mother.

I tried finding something definitive on this, but haven’t had a lot of luck except for the following:


The author of the site is a Jesuit.

The term “abortion” as understood in Catholic morality means expelling an immature fetus from the mother’s womb. The fetus must, first of all, be living; if it is certainly dead, its removal is not only permissible but ordinarily necessary. Moreover, the fetus must be immature or nonviable, by which is meant that it cannot live outside the womb even with the most extraordinary medical care. In ordinary circumstances a fetus is considered viable by the end of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, allowing for two or so weeks earlier if the child is to have special medical assistance like an incubator.

The page deals with euthanasia and abortion. You will have to page down to find the section regarding abortion. I think some may find the paragraphs following the quoted paragraph interesting.

Frankly, I think a Jesuit’s words would be “highly definitive” as they are the least liberal of all Orders.

I can only think that the hospital and its staff were reticent to perform the operation lest someone believe it to be an abortion of a viable fetus and point fingers casting aspersions that would be most difficult to allay.

Hope this helps.

I don’t think the Church would call it an abortion, but the hospital will probably still have it labeled that. When we lost our first child at a little over ten weeks, they did an ultrasound and found that judging by the size and development the baby had died the week before. They did a D&C. When we got the bill from the hospital the procedure was listed as an abortion! Nothing like rubbing some salt into an open wound.

Its sad that they did that…it is like rubbing salt in an open wound. I am hurt for you. I find it amazing that it was listed that way, but the CPT codes and ICD 9 codes have fixed names… The CPT would have had the word, and the ICD 9 would have been the modifier that explained the why. You gotta love the fed, the pencil pushers have just got a knack for making painful things even worse…:frowning: :mad:

Thank you! It took me a very long time to get over reading that. I had a terrible fear that there was some mistake and the baby was alive and I killed him. I know it’s just how they code things to make their lives easier, but I can’t imagine how many heart broken parents have gotten bills that say abortion on them! It’s just wrong!

Could there be an intent here on the part of the powers that be to fuzz the definition of abortion? They are doing something similar with fertilization, conception and implantation.

Or maybe I am just naturally suspicious of the bureaucracy. :rolleyes:

Spontaneous abortion has been the medical terminology for what is commonly known as a miscarriage for many more years than the legalization of elective abortion. There is nothing sinister about it’s use. It used to be a morally neutral phrase. It is unpleasant as is suffering through one.
People just prefer to say miscarriage to try to distance themselves from the elective procedure just as they prefer to say someone passed away instead of saying they died.

For example

Spontaneous abortion refers to pregnancy loss at less than 20 weeks’ gestation in the absence of elective medical or surgical measures to terminate the pregnancy. The term “miscarriage” is synonymous and often is used with patients because the word “abortion” is associated with elective termination. “Spontaneous pregnancy loss” has been recommended to avoid the term “abortion” and acknowledge the emotional aspects of losing a pregnancy.1 Another emotionally neutral term is "early pregnancy failure."2

Some abortionists use early induction of labor before a fetus (aka baby) is able to live outside the mother’s womb as a form of abortion on living babies. The babies die either during or shortly after their extremely premature birth. I don’t know how common it is, but I have heard of this being done.

If a baby is truly dead (and especially if the child’s pressence inside the mother is causing the mother health problems) I don’t think Catholic morality has any ethical problem with early induction of labor.

My guess in the situation described above–if all the facts given are correct (which they may not be)–is that either: a) the hospital did not know the child was already dead *or b) *perhaps the hospital had set policies against inducing labor before a certain stage of gestation because some doctors abuse that procedure cause the death of live babies.

You are right, that is what is called, but I think they could try to have some concern about the person reading the bill, it could have said D&C or it could have just been a code. I didn’t need to see that. You are right, I prefer to say I miscarried, I’m not going to tell anyone that I spontaneously aborted our first child and I can’t imagine anyone else will use that phrase either, so why not work with people. A person is a person no matter how small, so why not give them the respect they deserve. just my two cents.

Twice I was admitted to hospital with “threatened abortion” and twice my discharge papers said that I had experienced a spontaneous abortion followed by a D&C. Those are just the terms I’m used to and they are accurate.

You have “threatened abortion”, “spontaneous abortion”, so-called “therapeutic abortion” and, up until Roe v Wade, you also had “criminal abortion”.

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