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


All good but I believe you really mean “directly killing the baby”?


With all due respect, I have no idea how to ask this question. What is the whole abortion debate even about?

Is it ever needed to directly kill the baby in order to save the life of the mother?


Since you insist on being pedantic, yes, that’s what I mean.

I am differentiating “killing” from “taking action that may foreseeably result in the death of the baby, but is not undertaken for that purpose.”


My understanding is that the answer is no.

Children may die as a result of being removed too early, but personally I have great hope that even babies from ectopic pregnancy may one day be saved. The point of viability is much, much earlier than it was even a few years ago. That is great news.


TCB we all understand you just fine. Don’t twist yourself in knots over one person’s preferences.


Ok so I’m not going crazy? Because I’ve been feeling very dumb right now


I have a non Catholic second cousin who aborted her baby. The baby was covered in tumors which were draining blood and nutrition from the baby. She was very tiny, not growing and some of her tissues we’re turning septic and had infected the mothers blood. The doctors determined 0% chance of survival for baby and very low for mom. I don’t know how low.


Yeah, I’m well familiar with the case, as it was debated in CAF greatly.

As the author in the case from a Catholic Publication stated, “Unfortunately, the facts of the case are not entirely clear”

Fact is, we know what the doctors stated, in that they were in an emergency position and they were not going watch the mother to die.

She could not be induced because of her condition of pulmonary hypertension

This is according to the doctors, not me.

Either way, I agreed with the doctors. Letting the mother of four children and husband die, because of a Church doctrine which was disconnected from the reality of the case, would’ve been immoral.



A baby will never result from an ectopic pregnancy. The egg implants in a tube instead of in the safety of the uterus. The egg will not become nourished to continue to grow to the point of the fetal stage. I assume you have never gone through the heartache of a miscarriage…


You sound like someone who’s not fully educated in church doctrine and moral theology, particularly the application of the principle of double effect.

Which, you know, we all had to start there.

“Double effect” is the concept you’re looking for here. It is never permissible to take an action with the direct intent of killing an unborn child. It is permissible to take an action to save the life of the mother, even if the death of the child is a foreseeable consequence, so long as the primary intention is to save the life of the mother. There are cases of the latter, ectopic pregnancy being the most commonly cited example (likely due to medical clarity).


I understand what an ectopic pregnancy is. Remarkably, there are cases where children grow to term outside of the uterus.

Recently I was reading about the development of artificial wombs. Of course there’s a lot of potential for abuse there, but one day transfer may be possible.

I am sorry if you have lost a baby. It really is heart wrenching, and it’s true that in many cases we don’t understand why.


I linked this previously.


I was asking if methods that are condemned by the Church were ever medically necessary to save the life of the mother.


I have not heard of a case where the life of the mother was in danger and the danger caused by the pregnancy could not be resolved via other means - for example the removal of the fallopian tube in cases of an ectopic pregnancy, or a c-section delivery of a child who may not be old enough to survive.




You post on “moral theology” for a medical question…

So I see, ectopic pregnancies, as said. Always deadly for the embryo
Pre eclampsia (but in this case the foetus can be saved, depends on his term).

There is certainly others cases, but they are rare, and modern medecine can in almost cases save both mother and child.

For the ectopic pregnancies, I see some who said that the only moral way to end it, is to remove the tube with the baby inside, because otherwise it is direct abortion.

I will just remember them that the baby cannot grow enough to be saved, in all cases, and if we do that, the mother chances to have another chances will be impaired. Not completely…
But if we remove the last tube, she will be definitely barren, and will never have another child naturally.

The others way to proceed are: conservative surgery of the tube and chemical abortion. Thoses two methods aredone in a attempt to preverse fertility.

For chemical abortion for ectopic pregnancies, in all cases we must be sure (and that is difficult at this stage) that the mother is not pregnant with another child inside the womb.


Hallelujah! Perhaps my question now makes sense?


There are some moral theologians who think that the removal of the embryo from the tube might be permitted, even if it is known that the child will not survive. It is not the dominant opinion but there is no official position. We would of course have to do all we can to save the child, but sometimes all we can is not very much.

One concern I do have with our modern society, is that our acceptance of abortion discourages avenues of research because many people think it is better to try again, than to try possibly risky experiments in an attempt to save the life of the child.

I taught undergrads philosophy. You’re not any more confusing than many of the other young folk I’ve dealt with.


But did I make sense this time? :no_mouth:


I will add something: doctors will not remove the tube on first intention, as some seems to believe.

The first intention will be the less invasive for the mother, because no operation is needed:
chemical abortion, if it is already in time.

the second will be conservative surgery, if it is too late for chemical abortion

The third intention will be the ablation of the tube if it is too late because of rupture, or this this a case of recidivism.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit