Is abortion ever medically necessary to save the life of the mother?


You still haven’t got it.

You know “direct abortion” is an ethical construct not a visible medical procedure don’t you?
You know that “medically necessary” is also a hidden ethical proposition as well surely?
No medical procedure is actually objectively necessary. Only a moral judgement makes it so.
Which begs the very question you ask.

Try and construct a sentence without the ambiguous word “abortion.”
You will find that you cannot.

I think your paradox rests on your use of “abortion” with two contradictory meanings in your mind.
(one medical, one ethical). Like the infinitely circular staircase teenagers like to draw.

you can say death of the child is medically necessary to save the mother.
Then the ethical issue is can that be done morally.
You know the answer.

Therefore if it is done morally it is not direct abortion.
If it was not done morally then somebody’s intention was not of the required quality (perhaps they were glad it was ectopic cos they didn’t want the child anyways so were happy to kill it).
This might be considered direct abortion re the mother.
The Catholic surgeon would likely not be committing a direct abortion but a morally good act of saving the mother.

You see the morality is not primarily in the procedure but in the agent’s intent.
The type of procedure has a bearing though.
Some “procedures” can never anchor a good intent (killing of the innocent).
And some “procedures” can never, in themselves, anchor a mortally sinful intent (light theft, a small lie).

Perhaps the sort of question you ask is like this:
Is it ever necessary to kill the innocent?

Then you have to define what you mean by “necessary”.
Do you mean ethically good? You know the answer.

Do you mean you are forced by the expectations of others as to what is ethical?
If one is forced to do something it is no longer a full human act on your part.

Only human acts can be moral (I mean either morally good or bad).
You are again confusing “procedures” (external human actions) with intent.

So if we are talking of force (whether external or internal) then we say such acts have mitigated culpability. Choosing the “procedure” is still “disordered” and objectivelywrong. But they are only personal venial sins or maybe not even that. We did not have full intent.


I know a coworker had to have a baby delivered extremely prematurely for precisely this reason. In her case the child survived, but it was very touchy. They had been afraid they might have to do it even earlier, because of hypertension and preeclampsia, even if it was before the point where the child could survive outside the womb.


I was in a similar boat.

I had basically uncontrollable hypertension by 20 weeks. By the grace of God I made it to 33 weeks before delivering, but I nearly had a stroke.


So what can I ask about the abortion topic?




I think most people were able to understand your inquiry.


Can I even ask if abortion is needed?


Of course it is. Indirect abortions are medically important. Without them mothers would die of sepsis or other terrible things.


Like I said.
Reframe the question without using the word “abortion” which has two meanings for Catholics.

Is this a school debate topic?
Your teacher has intentionally confused his students with use of the word “abortion”.
When you discuss it without using the word (but rather a description of what you really mean)
I think clarity will come.


Sorry I meant direct


No, because direct abortion is always a sin. See again Christ’s promise that there will always be a way to avoid sin.


No. It isn’t. I’m genuinely asking because now I’m trying to figure out what kind of abortions the Church condemns, and I’m also asking if those kinds of abortions were required to save the life of the mother (but I’m guessing that question probably doesn’t make sense either) ever


As I say.
Frame your questions without using the word abortion and clarity will come.


All abortions are condemned.

Medical removals in the case of ectopic pregnancies are allowed.

Medical removals when the baby is old enough to survive outside the womb are allowed provided we strive to save the baby.

Abortions primary purpose is to kill the baby. Which is why often it will be chopped into pieces during the removal. Medical removals do not have the purpose of killing the child.


I know what you mean but I heard what you said methinks.

Indirect abortions can be morally acceptable.
We might quibble over whether “indirect abortion” is rightly called abortion for Catholics :wink:


Please do not imply to women that an ectopic pregnancy removal is abortion. Sometimes an egg implants OUTSIDE the uterus in the abdominal cavity - is completely not viable and if the baby reaches the fetal stage - which is not possible being tht the baby is outside the uterus, the woman definitely can die. The pregnancy may have very well have been a natural miscarriage without medical intervention.

A circumstance where an abortion occurs to save the mother is extremely rare
Most women who are told a pregnancy will be life-threatening usually naturally miscarry - severe thyroid issues, etc., or whatever it is. OR they find out their pregnancy goes fine.

Its more common:

  1. a decision needs to be made in the delivery room to try harder to save one or the other (mother or child) based on who has the better chance of survival in a dire situation. In that case, I do not think its an immoral decision if they try harder to save the mother’s life than the baby’s. There are women who make the decision that they want the baby saved over their life at all costs - but if the baby has a 10% chance of survival if they focus on them instead of the mother, a doc is saving mom.

There is nothing to be guilty about in that case.


every abortion is condemned.

If the mother has a condition where her life would be threatened if she was – she can practice natural family planning with her husband – and I would go as far as buying a fertility monitor just to add that extra level of careful.


Lillypilly may also be driving at the fact that what are colloquially called “miscarriages” are referred to medically as “spontaneous abortions.” Medically speaking, “abortion” is any termination of pregnancy regardless of cause. (It can throw you for a loop if you are a woman filling out papers at the doctor’s office.)

It’s not always wrong to end a pregnancy. What’s wrong is killing the baby.


All good but this part is dodgy at least for moral theologians.
Deciding whether death of the foetus is ethical based only on proportionality criteria likely has speed bumps.


Any and all medical processes must have the intention of having the best possible outcome for mother and child. Nothing which has the intention of killing the child should be permitted.

In the case of an eptopic pregnancy whatever is done is intended to save mother and child but if it is simply impossible to save the child then the mother at least should be helped to live. The death of the child is not and never should be the intention.

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