Morality of Abortion to Save Mother's Life?


#1

I don’t think making abortion illegal is the only pro-life cause out there. I’ve met many people who are against abortion, even some atheists, because they can see that no matter what words are used, it’s still intending to end a life, it’s still murder. But at the same time, they also don’t want to see the “big government” forcing all women (and girls) to carry pregnancies to term when those pregnancies could endanger their lives and directly cause their deaths, and then throwing women and doctors in jail for murder as a result of trying to save the mother’s life by having these “illegal abortions.” I’ve even heard some pro-choice people refer to a state-imposed pregnancy as virtually a “death penalty” for certain women and girls who can’t carry pregnancies to term for whatever medically valid reason.

Whenever the topic of the pro-life movement comes up, they bring up the worst case scenarios… the 14-year-old girl who is raped and the doctors agree that carrying the pregnancy to term would most definitely endanger her life or cause her death for some medical reason, but they have to do it anyway because “big government” tells them to. So then she’s forced to carry it and dies during child birth. Then the pro-life movement is seen as lifting up the infant and saying “a victory won!” and meanwhile the mother’s dead on the table. And no amount of saying how “unfortunate it is” can reverse the fact that it happened.

Now you can call such an example “propaganda” all you want, but it’s not going to go away until Catholics actually talk about what the pro-life position is when the mother’s life is in imminent jeopardy because of the pregnancy. I’ve been a Catholic for almost a year and I’ve never really been out on the frontlines, but I’ve always been pro-life because I believe being pro-life means respecting the life of both the mother and the child. Please excuse my ignorance if this has come up in the past, but I think to be more effective at communicating the pro-life cause without making it look heartless to these situations we need to talk more about the morality of cases that aren’t so easily cut and dry. There’s a big difference between the morality of an action like abortion (which I believe is always immoral) and practical and legal prudence on the matter.

The point is, some of these “pro-choice” people aren’t pro-choice because they “love abortion” (and I agree that’s sick), they’re pro-choice because they’re actually “pro-life at heart” and just see a “one size fits all” government-imposed medical outcome as being part of a “culture of death” itself (they just don’t use those words). In fact, I’d say a good many of them are pro-choice only because they’re actually expressing “pro-life” views towards the health and safety of certain women (and girls) who simply can’t medically carry a child (lest they will die), and who would be mercilessly thrown under the bus by laws that would charge them for “murder” as a result trying to save their own lives (and especially when it concerns those who were victims of terrible crimes themselves).

I’ve never heard a pro-life Catholic even want to discuss situations like this. Usually I’ve heard them pass these scenarios off as “propaganda” and then change the topic to a scenario that is more cut and dry, effectively ignoring the harder issues that the other side wants to hear addressed. Those on the frontlines that I’ve heard only seem to want to talk about cases where the evil of abortion is obvious (like the “abortion for convenience” cases), who then tout slogans like “end abortion” and “make it illegal” without considering that doing such would actually enforce the deaths of some percentage of women and girls who can’t medically carry infants to term for whatever medically valid reason.

I’ve read the Catechism on this and a few Church documents and none of them even address what a pro-life position would be in regards to these cases. So I’m humbly asking, what would it be? What do I tell my pro-choice friends about what a pro-life position says on the worst case scenarios?


#2

My understanding has always been (and some here can give better details) that if the result of a procedure used to save the mother’s life results in the death of her child then it is morally intact. A direct killing of an unborn child is never permissible even with an unfavorable prognosis for the mother. We are not at liberty to decide which life is worth more so as to take one to save the other. This is indeed a most difficult and sensitive matter and consultation with a priest should be sought in these circumstances if time permits. The bottom line is that there is no reason that can allow for the direct termination of a pregnancy. Abortion is deemed by the Church as a non-negotiable and therefore allows for no instance where abortion is morally good. I hope this helps. There may be others here who can help with documentation and the like but this is the teaching of the Church. God bless you…teachccd :slight_smile:


#3

Hi!

Have you checked out the site of the organization Priests for Life? They answer a lot of questions about these things. Unfortunately sometimes they don’t get medical facts exactly right, but they do a good job explaining the morality of abortion issues.

priestsforlife.org/questions/questionsandanswers.htm

The Catechism says that “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law”

With abortion, the ends do not justify the means. If the abortion is conducted to the specific means that the child dies so that the mother lives, a direct abortion has occurred, which is evil, even if the end is good that the mother lives. If the child dies as a side effect of a treatment intended to save both their lives, an abortion has not occurred. These teachings are hard to accept, I agree, but they are good.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m skilled enough to explain God’s teachings in a way that will convince a secular society of the truth, though. I’m going to have to leave that to someone else, and I think that answers your second question. Why don’t you hear pro-lifers talk about the hard issues? Because you need a great deal of knowledge, and a lot of us just don’t have that. Sad but true :frowning:

Hope this helps

Peace


#4

With all of these women who would otherwise die if they had a baby…it’s a wonder any of us survived the Ice Age. :rolleyes:


#5

This is a red herring, a logical fallacy. Even when abortion was illegal, doctors and mother’s were not thrown in jail for losing the baby while trying to legitimately save the mother and child. Only a direct abortion would be illegal, and dismembering the baby is never a treatment to save a mother’s life. It is also a fallacy that women were jailed. Doctor’s could be jailed or fined for procured abortions, not legitimate medical procedures that resulted in the unintended death of the child.

Red herring.

But it didn’t happen. This is all a made up story of what “might” happen in someone’s head, someone who doesn’t understand actual medical intervention in a life-threatening situation. Someone who just wants to put out red herrings, no matter how fanciful.

Because it is propaganda.

I can suggest Randy Alcorn’s book on Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments

No Mark, they aren’t. If they were they would agree that we cannot kill the baby** at all**.

They are only seeing this if they choose to stay in ignorance and propaganda-land instead of reality where medical professionals who pro-life can tell you how situations are handled without the dismembering of babies.

You’ve really bought in to the lies. Again, even when abortion was illegal in all 50 states, no such laws existed.

I

There are literally hundreds of threads here on this topic so that itself refutes the idea that no one wants to talk about it. American Life League, Priests for Life, Feminists for Life, and many other organizations also have information/blogs/posts/threads/pamphlets etc on this topic.

You have really bought the lie if you think pro-life people somehow don’t want to talk about this or that it somehow weakens a pro-life position.

I really suggest that you read Randy’s book, and engage in conversation with a pro-life OB/GYN who can explain to you that these scenarios simply do not exist.

The pro life position is that we cannot kill babies.

The doctor has two patients. It is incumbent upon the doctor to try to save both patients. If ,in the course of a legitimate medical procedure, the child is unable to be saved but it is not directly killed on purpose (even if foreseen) this would **not **be a direct abortion.

See the Principle of Double Effect for more.


#6

A couple of thoughts:

-There are 2 patients deserving of care.

  • What if it was not mother and child, but two Siamese twins suffering a condition that threatened them both. A ‘treatment’ option might be to kill one, as this would end the threat to the other. How would we approach that morally?

#7

In the case where the mother’s life is in danger, the best thing to do would be to try to deliver the baby early without dismembering it. If the babies dies afterwards at least it would not be murder. That’s what I’ve realized recently.


#8

Mark, I wanted to add:

We must carefully examine the argument presented before we jump to defend against it. Most arguments these days are based on logical fallacies. Why should I refute an argument that is illogical, nonsensical, or otherwise flawed?

Spend your time helping people see the flaws in their logic (difficult since today’s education system doesn’t teach people to think critically). The age of twitter and campaign slogans – quick, snappy sound bites-- have dulled people’s ability to think logically and break down. It also helps to be a student of history, which again in today’s age most people just believe what they read online or see on TV.

You have to break down the argument and show it for the mess it really is.

Randy’s book is great for that.


#9

Yeah I think some perspective is important. Abortions supposedly performed for even just the health of the mother are a tiny percentage of abortions performed. That’s not even narrowing it down to abortions to save the life of the mother. Same thing applies to pregnancies due to rape. They make up a very small number of the abortions performed. So when pro-choice advocates throw these out as examples why abortion on demand should be legal are really being disingenuous. It would be like arguing for outlawing hamburgers because a handful of people choke on one every year.


#10

Necessity is not a defense to murder.


#11

I posted this link a while back from Prolife OB/GYN, which is a Christian, but not necessarily Catholic group.

The US Bishops and Catholic hospitals have slightly more conservative ethical guidelines, that potentially rule out inducing live delivery before the point of viability; however the basic point is that there is never a need to KILL a child to save the mother’s life. An aggressive but ethical treatment might still indirectly cause the death of a child, however this in not the intent. :signofcross:


#12

I appreciate the responses, but I must say that I haven’t “bought into the lies,” because I don’t automatically perceive most ordinary pro-choice people on this issue are purposefully “lying” because they secretly love abortion and are trying cover up a simple bloodlust, or something. I assume instead that they at least genuinely believe what they believe because I do try to assume the best about people until they prove to me otherwise. I think all this caricaturing of the pro-choice side as these unthinking abortion-hungry monsters is uncharitable and divisive. However, it’s true that people’s genuinely held beliefs are often ill-formed, so in that case proper formation is necessary.

Having said that, I think the logic as you’ve all articulated it is pretty morally sound when it comes to the difference between “direct vs. indirect” abortions (as the world understands the term)… but when we come out with our own “twitter-like” sloganeering saying “make all abortion illegal” … people assume we mean ALL “abortion” or “all procedures that result in the death of the child”, whether direct OR indirect (whether willed as a means or an ends or not willed at all), because we don’t specify this in our posters and in our speeches or basically anywhere besides where it can be found perhaps buried in various books on the subject. We too are guilty of simplifying things to fit them on posters, and people therefore call out the logic of making “all abortion” (or “all procedures that result in the death of babies)” illegal, when in reality that’s not what we’re saying. It’s how it ends up being read, because we don’t openly specify what we mean by “all abortion.” People assume the worst about us just like many pro-life people assume the worst about pro-choice people. I can’t help but recall Matthew 7:2 had something to say on this very phenomenon.


#13

The problem with someone who is pro-abortion is that they think the baby is a blob of tissue. Without addressing this issue, it’s pretty hard to make any head way at all.

It’s very odd to me that the people who hold up science as a god to serve cannot seem to understand that a pregnant woman is carrying a baby with it’s own unique dna and without doing the baby harm, will continue to grow. It’s not a potential human being, it IS a human being that is growing and alive.

How did we come to the point that when a pregnant woman is in distress that it’s helping her to kill her baby?


#14

I often make this case with these types… From a scientific perspective, what “quality of the air outside the womb” magically bestows personhood unto a “blob of cells”? They have no answer for such a thing.

As a Seinfeld watcher… “What gives you the right to tell me how to make my pie?” “Because it’s a pizza!” “It’s not a pizza until it comes out of the oven!” “It’s a pizza the moment you put your fists in the dough!” :smiley:


#15

By all means, give individuals the benefit of any doubt. But be aware that the vast majority of abortions are pursued in the absence of any grave threat to the mother’s life. The most common rationale offered for the “right to abortion” is not that it is the right to “save my life”, but rather, “it’s a woman’s body and she has the right to choose”. Now those arguing this position may not be “lying”, but they are clearly not on-board with catholic moral theology which demands that human life may not be voluntarily and deliberately taken.

Having said that, I think the logic as you’ve all articulated it is pretty morally sound when it comes to the difference between “direct vs. indirect” abortions (as the world understands the term)… but when we come out with our own “twitter-like” sloganeering saying “make all abortion illegal” … people assume we mean ALL “abortion” or “all procedures that result in the death of the child”, whether direct OR indirect (whether willed as a means or an ends or not willed at all), because we don’t specify this in our posters and in our speeches or basically anywhere besides where it can be found perhaps buried in various books on the subject. We too are guilty of simplifying things to fit them on posters, and people therefore call out the logic of making “all abortion” (or “all procedures that result in the death of babies)” illegal, when in reality that’s not what we’re saying. It’s how it ends up being read, because we don’t openly specify what we mean by “all abortion.” People assume the worst about us just like many pro-life people assume the worst about pro-choice people. I can’t help but recall Matthew 7:2 had something to say on this very phenomenon.

The expression “indirect abortion” is an oxymoron. It is like “unintentional” murder - which makes no sense given murder is itself an intentional killing. But your point about communicating clearly is valid. Our Catholoc position is simply to oppose procedures that set out to intentionally kill the baby. But make no mistake, the subtleties are not quickly grasped.


#16

Perhaps a humanist viewpoint is that until the baby has a level of sentience / self-awareness, or is able to experience pain, it is not human as they understand it. I am speculating, but they must draw a distinction between we on the outside of the womb and those recently conceived.


#17

Hello Mark.

I’m coming late to your discussion. I’m finding the following problematic, but since you are a newer Catholic, I can understand your confusion.

“The point is, some of these “pro-choice” people aren’t pro-choice because they “love abortion” (and I agree that’s sick), they’re pro-choice because they’re actually “pro-life at heart” and just see a “one size fits all” government-imposed medical outcome as being part of a “culture of death” itself (they just don’t use those words). In fact, I’d say a good many of them are pro-choice only because they’re actually expressing “pro-life” views towards the health and safety of certain women (and girls) who simply can’t medically carry a child (lest they will die), and who would be mercilessly thrown under the bus by laws that would charge them for “murder” as a result trying to save their own lives (and especially when it concerns those who were victims of terrible crimes themselves).”

You cannot be pro-abortion/ pro-choice as you’ve worded it, and be “pro-life at heart.” Please do not give the pro abortion persons credit for what they don’t have. It is a very clearly defined edge. You either think murder is murder in all instances or it isn’t. Medical murder is still medical murder. There is nothing healthy about giving a woman an abortion. The procedure itself can be life-threatening and can and does sometimes cause death of both infant and mother. Telling women it is healthy is pure poppycock. So is telling them Planned Parenthood’s abortion mill is “safe.” It is safer than the back-alley wacko with a coat hanger, but not by much. It is 100% un-safe for an infant in utero!

Now, prior to Roe v Wade and the others that gave women abortion on demand in 50 States, those in the medical professions that dealt with pregnancy in all stages did handle at risk women in many efficient ways and doctors and women weren’t prosecuted for infanticides that were bona fide medical interventions on behalf of both patients, the mother and the child. Those prosecuted for committing infanticide via abortion were the back alley butchers who catered to the prostitution industry and those who pregnancies needed fixing. Only women who assisted in the actual abortions or who self-aborted were prosecuted and jailed. If abortion were to be restored to it’s original illegal state, then once again the States would need to prosecute those whose business is killing children. The women who need medical assistance in high risk pregnancies would once again have that same assistance and yes, tragic occasions in which a true medical emergency occurs which results in the death of an infant not born will happen and no they won’t be prosecuted for infanticide. They never were by mistake. Your views about the pro-aborts secretly being pro-life aren’t realistic. Pure propaganda geared towards giving an acceptable wrapper to a unacceptable package kinda like perfuming a sewer and expecting others to enjoy the sweeter smell. Not!

Glenda


#18

Hello Mark.

Here is another of your statements I find distressing: “because we don’t openly specify what we mean by “all abortion.” People assume the worst about us just like many pro-life people assume the worst about pro-choice people.”

So, you are a pro-choice Catholic. Why not simply say so. The Scripture you use to defend a pro-choice position won’t change Jesus’ Commandment number 5, “Thou shalt not kill.” Get off the fence. Murder is wrong. It is against God’s law and when it happens to an innocent little baby in the womb who just wants to be born and loved and nurtured, it is all the more tragic and evil. Adoption is the option for those whose sex-life presents them with an untimely pregnancy.

Glenda


#19

From my own following of the issue, I have heard a small subset of people who do promote the ‘sentience = personhood’ theory, and that a person isn’t a person for several months or years after birth. I’m pretty sure they are on the fringe though; sorry I don’t have any specific examples.

For the most part I think it’s more like “the fetus is inside the mother, so it is the mother; When it’s outside the mother it is not the mother”, which is overly simplistic, I know, but that really sounds like the basis of the argument.

Also, some argue that abortion rights have nothing to do with “personhood” so much as it has to do with the effects on the mothers’ body. Some people view it as Assault and the mother has the right to use whatever means to end the Assault, especially when that Assault becomes deadly. It doesn’t even cross their mind to try and save the baby, because it has become an aggressor in their eyes, it’s all or nothing. :frowning:


#20

I’m not. I’m simply trying to be respectful of people. Everyone is capable of lies and distortion, whether pro-choice or pro-life, unless you’ve forgotten. I give credit to people who genuinely care about life. I don’t give credit to people who have to resort to word-battles and rhetorical caricatures of the other side in order to try to get in jabs and win points, regardless of what side they’re on. Someone can be on the morally right side and still have a morally bankrupt way of arguing for it that ends up doing more harm than good for the cause. That’s what I see people doing and I’m sick of it.

Firstly, I didn’t use that verse to justify abortion, I used it to justify not demonizing people, especially if we (the pro-life side) don’t want to be demonized in return. I’m just so sick of all the backhanded demonizing of “the other” that comes from both sides of this debate. Pro-choice call us monsters. We call them monsters. They call us heartless, thoughtless conniving liars and what do we do? The same thing back. We call them heartless, thoughtless conniving liars. I’m just sick of it. Secondly, I’m not pro-choice and nothing I’ve said would even give that impression. I would ask you at this point to please refrain from jumping to all these conclusions. All I did was ask a question about what the Catholic position was when the mother’s life is at risk.


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