Inviable & Dangerous Pregnancy Termination

So, if a woman has a life-threatening fallopian tube pregnancy (or something like that) which could not possibly develop into a living baby anyways, please tell me that the church does not have a problem with her ending this pregnancy which would kill her and which could not even come to full term anyways.

Just checking.


Miracles can happen.

But if tragedy does claim both the mother and the baby than her valuing the life of the baby over her own life would make her a martyr like it made a martyr out of Saint Giana Molla. (In her case, though, it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy and her unborn daughter was born and is still alive today.}

But thats just me


In the case of Saint Gianna it wasn’t a tubal non viable pregnancy but a pregnancy that got to full term despite the presence of tumors in the uterus.


Yeah, that is just you.

Also, you missed the key word inviable. It’s one thing to heroically choose to die to save a viable baby, but to be shamed into dying for an inviable ectopic pregnancy that is just going to kill you without producing a baby: no thanks. Waiting around for a miracle would be insulting to God.


You can treat any life threatening condition even if unintended consequence is death of baby but can never directly and intentionally harm the baby.

Good metaphor is when you’re driving home and see a “detour” sign so you have to take different route since the direct route is not available. Same here - the route of directly and intentionally harming baby is not available so just means need use alternate routes to treat mother


Right. She died from a septic infection after the successful delivery of her child.


In the case of a tubal pregnancy, the morally licit course of action would be to remove the fallopian tube. The principle of double effect would apply.


I am well aware of the Church’s teaching regarding ectopic pregnancy.

I would like to “put something out there”, and I’m sure it’s been considered by Catholic moral theologians before, but here goes:

The fetus has attached itself to the fallopian tube instead of the uterine wall. It is entirely possible to slice the tube open, remove the fetus, and suture the tube back up. The death of the fetus is not willed. No direct attack is made on the life of the fetus, it is just removed and laid aside. Tragically, it will die within seconds. It will die because it is not yet viable, not because it is being killed — technically speaking, you could think of it as a “live birth”, even though death is almost instantaneous. It cannot be re-implanted onto the uterine wall to be allowed to develop normally. If we could do that, we would, but we can’t. If we could place the fetus into an artificial womb and allow it to develop normally, we would do that. But we can’t, because that technology doesn’t exist yet (and may never).

Would it be possible, then, to say that this is not a direct abortion, that you are simply removing the fetus from a place where it should not be, and because it is impossible to “move” the fetus to a place where it should be, or a place where it can develop normally (such as the non-existent “artificial womb”), the fetus will die. The fetus is not yet viable — we wish it were, but it’s not. If the fetus were viable, the removal would be morally unproblematical, but that’s not the case here. Therefore, sadly, the fetus will die.

Needless to say, the fetus would be baptized immediately, and its little body treated with reverence and laid to rest.

I’m making no assertions, I’m just offering another way to look at the same scenario. I would welcome especially the input of priests on CAF and others trained in moral theology.

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Look, Elias.

First of all, don’t ever use the words “I’ll pray for you” as you just have.

We’ve clearly hit a nerve with each other, given the gravity of the topic. You saying that you’ll pray for me, given your clear annoyance at my non-submission to your response, really just comes across as a snide way of slapping me down because you think I’m such a naughty sinner, not trusting God to save every ectopic pregnancy.

Seriously, I’m not the one who needs to watch my tone any more than you do.

Also, I didn’t say that you personally were shaming anyone, anyways. I was speaking to the worry and shame a woman may feel in the situation.


Well, probably not.
But still, it has to count for something, whether for the baby, or for you when you are judged.

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A woman may have surgery to remove the diseased tube. The death of the child is a foreseeable consequence under the principle of double effect, but not the purpose of the intervention.

A woman may NOT take Methotryxate to cause an abortion. That is a direct attack on the child to kill it, not a medical procedure to remove a diseased organ.

“Directly suppressive measures” against the embryo are prohibited while procedures exclusively aimed at saving the life and health of the woman are justified.


That’s really not true. At the stage of implantation in the Fallopian tube, there is no fetus. There’s a blastocyst. It’s less than .2mm in size. The ectopic pregnancy damages the tube.

Again, that isn’t in alignment with the reality of the size of the blastocyst.


This topic is temporarily closed for at least 4 hours due to a large number of community flags.

This topic was automatically opened after 12 hours.

This is akin to telling someone with cancer that miracles can happen and not to usurp God’s plans by having chemotherapy.

Of course you can remove the fallopian tube in the scenario.


babochka and 1ke gave the correct answers to this question.


Perhaps “fetus” isn’t the best word, as the unborn child only becomes a “fetus” in the 10th week of pregnancy. “Embryo” might be better. Whatever you call it, the conceived entity — I’ll use that term instead — is a human person from the moment of conception. I am not going to get into when the soul is infused, because nobody knows that.

I understand that at the time of implantation (whether in the uterus or the fallopian tube), the conceived entity is a blastocyst. I had in mind more the point at which the mother knows she is pregnant, and the point at which she is diagnosed as having an ectopic pregnancy, and the question of surgery arises. At that point, the conceived entity is going to be something more than just a blastocyst. If I am not mistaken, this famous picture is of a removed ectopic pregnancy:

I’m not arguing that a blastocyst isn’t a person.

Your idea that you can open the Fallopian tube, remove the blastocyst, or embryo, and close up the Fallopian tube is the statement that is not accurate.

No, it isn’t. At implantation a blastocyst is .2mm in size.

If so, would seem to be an extreme exception, rather than the rule. An ectopic pregnancy going that long would be very atypical. At 7-9 weeks the embryo is only .5 inches at most. This picture is showing a much larger embryo stage.

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Well, then, if that is the case, then the only two options are salpingectomy (removal of the part of the tube that has the conceived entity in it = moral) or methotrexate (direct assault upon the conceived entity = immoral).

By “at that point”, I meant the point at which the mother has found out she is pregnant, the ectopic pregnancy has been diagnosed, and the surgery takes place. That would be sometime after implantation.

Could be. I believe this is the picture made famous by Dr John Willke. If this isn’t that picture, it’s one just like it.

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