Mother or Child

I know a protestant who constantly tries to engage me in the same argument. She claims that during labour/childbirth if there was a serious problem the Church insists that the life of the child be saved. She claims this is so the Church’s membership will grow. She seems immune to the logic that if the mother dies numbers remain the same.

I’m asking on here because I can’t find an answer in the Catechism. I believe the Church’s teaching would be that everything ought to be done to save the lives of both mother and child. But, what should be done if the only choice is one of them will die as a result of attempts to save the other?

I do hope you will answer my question rather than fudge it. Obviously, an attempt should be made to save both lives. There must be circumstances where the attempt to save either one would lead to the death of the other. What is the Church’s moral teaching in such circumstances? As I’ve been unable to find the answer I’d be grateful if you’d please cite any relevant Church document.

Then she will be able to produce the Church document that states this.

Of course you can’t, because no such teaching exists.

The Church does not have a “teaching” on this.

But, yes, the Church clearly teaches that murder is a grave sin against the fifth commandment. The Church clearly teaches that life begin at conception.

So, yes, the doctor has two patients.

That is a tragic and unintended consequence of trying to save them both. The doctor will use his prudential judgment on what to do in an emergency situation.

And yet, no one can seem to actually produce one.

That the doctor has a moral obligation to try to save both.

If one dies while trying to save both, that is tragic but not intended and not a sin.

That’s one silly arguement I would not continue with anyone.
That said, Ike’s answer is as good of any I would say.

Maybe you should focus her attention to something more practical and relavent…?

The Church DOES insist that the doctor do everything he/she can to save the life of the child. The Church ALSO insists the the doctor do everything he/she can to save the life of the mother. There is no moral choice that allows the doctor to choose one over the other simply based on the factor of mother vs. child.

It is possible that some of the efforts might be unsuccessful. That would be a sad but unintended result.

The rest is extraneous noise that tries to diminish the value of either life.

She claims that during labour/childbirth if there was a serious problem the Church insists that the life of the child be saved.

The onus is on her to support her claim. She needs to show you the document that says this.

She claims this is so the Church’s membership will grow. She seems immune to the logic that if the mother dies numbers remain the same.

Actually, the number could possibly be less if the mother died because she would not have any more children. If your friend refuses to see this logic it’s unlikely she’ll accept any argument you could make.

Here’s one: the mother has cancer and chemotherapy would kill her baby. This was the example used in this question on CA

In the situation where the mother has cancer, her disease can be treated at any point–some mothers wait and others start treatment right away, depending on various factors. If the baby dies as a result, and this is by no means a certainty, that is not immoral.

I agree. I was addressing 1ke’s comment to the OP’s question
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There must be circumstances where the attempt to save either one would lead to the death of the other.

1ke said no one could produce a situation like that.*

The closest thing I have seen is a story of a mom who was in the treatable stages of cancer who found out she was pregnant. She opted not to do chemo, because of the damage to the developing baby (might have actually been babies, seem to remember twins). Especially since the baby was in such early stages of development. She waited until after the birth, and by then the cancer had advanced and she did die, despite chemo. There is a solid argument her life might have been saved if she was willing to endanger her child(ren)'s either through chemo while pregnant, or simply having an abortion.

The story ran in our paper several years ago, I believe it real. I have also heard of women in a similar situation taking a middle road, and allowing the chemo further along in the pregnancy, when the baby was more developed, and less risk for miscarriage/birth defects.

I myself would die for any of my children, born or not born. I hate this question, because it ignores the sacrifice many women would willingly make.

The story of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla is the most directly applicable to this situation. She developed a fibroma on her uterus while pregnant with her fourth child. She refused to have an abortion (quite rightly), but could have chosen licitly to have a hysterectomy, which would of course result in the inintended death of the unborn child. She chose to have the child and she died shortly after.

Church teaching clearly allowed her freedom to choose either to have a hysterectomy to treat her condition, but result in the unintended death of her child, or to not treat her condition, thereby endangering her own life for the sake of her childs. She is since canonized as a saint.

Thank you all for your answers.

I’m afraid you incorrectly infer she’s open to reasoned, logical argument. Like many anti-Catholic protestants her claims bear no substance.

I thought so but even though I couldn’t find anything in the Catechism I wondered if I was failing to look for the appropriate keywords in its index. My reason for starting this thread was to double check.

It’s not one of my choosing. This woman keeps badgering me with this and I feel the need to defend the Church. Because I’ve thus far argued it’s not a Church teaching I can continue with the same response. If I were to change it even slightly she would instantly jump on the inconsistency.

She’s not my friend. I never said she was. Friends, real friends, don’t behave towards each other, the way she behaves towards me.

If she keeps bringing up this issue over and over it seems to me there’s something else behind it. Next time (if there is a next time) you can try to cut her off and ask her what the issue really is. If she doesn’t come back with the underlying issue, flat out tell her you’re not going to discuss it anymore. It sounds like there’s no way to convince her so the only thing you can do is refuse to engage. Even if you were to give here the proof you want I doubt she would accept it.

No, I have made no such assumption. But you must be insistent.

Which is why you must be insistent that she show you the proof OR stop telling lies about the Church.

You can only be badgered if you LET her badger you. If she is not reasonable, establish boundaries that include not discussing this any more. If she violates thos boundaries, bid her adieu.

I think, but I’m not sure, that her underlying issue is that the Catholic Church is besotted with increasing its numbers. I neither want to derail the thread I started but would add something I didn’t mention before (because I am able to challenge it) but she sees the main reason why the Church is against abortion is because it wants to increase its number of adherents.

She’s difficult to avoid - we work together. I do try and keep out of her way but she almost seems to ambush me. Asking her for proof is as fruitful as when King Canute ordered the sea to go back.

You work with her? Then tell here that neither one of you are getting paid to discuss religion, you’re getting paid to work, so could she please let you do your job without hassling you. If she insists on badgering you, go to human resources about her behavior.

I can’t directly prove it but she’s “clever” in choosing her times to bring up her anti-Catholic rhetoric: she doesn’t do it when we’re supposed to be working. She does it when we’re on a break or at lunch. In other words at times when we could discuss anything of our choice.

To be honest I’m not even sure how she found out I’m a catholic. I don’t hide the fact nor do I go round my work place telling everyone who’ll listen I’m catholic.

Whilst it would be against my instinct to go complaining to management about a colleague I really wish she’d settle for us agreeing that we’ll never agree. I do find her behaviour unusual. Whilst I know other protestants whose beliefs are different from mine they don’t behave like her. If we discuss religion they’re rational and will listen to what the Catholic Church teaches.

She’s stalking you on break then? Just tell her you want to eat and relax in peace. If she wants to know about the Catholic Church, direct her to CA!

It does not matter. It is harrassment and you should demand it stop and report it to your boss and HR if it does not.

I hadn’t really appreciated the extent of the problem until I explained it here on CA. I’ll have a polite but firm word with her. If it’s avoidable I’d prefer to resolve it rather than escalate it to management.

I won’t be telling her about CA. After all, what has CA done to deserve her:eek:

If the “polite but firm word” doesn’t have any effect then the only thing to do is tell her that you will not discuss it any more and then refuse to discuss it. Don’t respond to anything she says. Don’t feel you have to correct her, she’s obviously not listening. Don’t engage in any way and eventually she’ll get tired of baiting you (hopefully :)).

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