Significant other suddenly reveals unusual moral beliefs

Hello everyone. Ordinarily I’m not keen on bringing such personal things into an online forum, but at the moment I’m abroad and away from my friends, who I would ordinarily swing things by. My head is spinning a little and I would really appreciate hearing what other Catholics have to say in response to this situation, as it’s a little bizarre to me.

Basically, my SO and I have been going out for a decent while. We’re both practicing Catholics. My lady friend…although she would be very orthodox, sadly, she does have something of a negative association with some parts of the faith due to coming from a rather strict family. We would have some disagreements, as every two people do, but nothing that had proven to be a real breaking point.

Last night, however, she revealed that she isn’t against abortion in all circumstances. She acknowledges that abortion is in fact killing an actual, living child but maintains that it could be acceptable in circumstances - such as ectopic pregnancies, cases of rape etc and that all women should have the legal choice.

This really shook me the wrong way because she wasn’t familiar with the principle of double effect and wasn’t making a comment on that, and unlike other people she isn’t ignorant as to what an abortion really is and fully acknowledges that it’s a human life. She’s quite intelligent, but because this came from such a different angle I decided to press her on it from that angle. I asked if this principle would apply to everyone including children outside of the womb and she said yes. I asked (disregarding principle of double effect) if she would, for instance, agree that a 4 year old child could be killed if it met her criteria. She said yes - if both an adult and a 4 year old child were going to die for some reason and the only way of saving the adult was to directly kill the child, that it would be morally good.

I’ve never encountered anyone who holds this position so consistently. After 1.5 years this is the last thing I expected to hear coming from her… or really anyone, to be honest.

We’ll have the opportunity shortly to discuss in depth over a very long car ride… but I wanted to hear some commentary on this from other Catholics because…well, I can’t really process this and my mind is a bit numbed.


If you are posting this in good faith, this is not someone you should consider marrying or having children with. From the above statement this person sounds depraved.

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Does she just choose the older of the two persons, if she could only save one?
This is why we date and discern. I would wonder what other bizarre things she’s going to reveal. I guess I would pay a lot of attention to whether she can understand / agree with the double effect discussion.


I’ve met plenty of people who hold this position consistently (advocating the killing of born people, to stay consistent with the logical routes they use to say it’s okay to kill pre-born people). Usually they’re atheists though.

Dunno what to say, man. If you’re about to have a very long car ride, maybe pre-screen then queue up a Trent Horn apologetics podcast about abortion and the principle of double effect, so that she can hear the fullness of a good position, before you just try to argue with her about how her own position is imperfect? If she thinks there’s no good position here and every position is imperfect for some reason, best advice would be to expose her to the good position before having a follow-up chat about it.

If she persists in thinking it’s okay to directly (instead of just indirectly) kill innocents, remember that you can’t choose the moral character of other people. Only they can. And be prepared to adjust your relationship status accordingly, I guess.

But I’d suggest starting with a Trent Horn podcast. If she agrees to listen to it (and then have a ‘book club’ style chat about it afterward), this upcoming car ride could be a great opportunity. Don’t lead with aggression, let her hear what Trent (or Stephanie Gray – she’s fantastic) has to say about it, then only talk further after. She may need to hear clarity before she’s capable of imagining it.


It’s not depraved. It’s situation ethics. It is what most people believe in. There is nothing obviously right about the proposition that ‘the end can never justify an evil means’ or the ‘principle of double effect’. They are both Catholic beliefs. But surveys indicate that many practising Catholics are not entirely in line with Catholic teaching.

As a non-believer of course I have no idea what the right thing is for the OP in terms of his relationship. Mrs FiveLinden and I agree on about (guessing here) 80% of things and have done ok in our 41-year relationship. Although it does seem extraordinary that she can persist in these 20% of totally wrong beliefs despite my daily sessions offering her enlightenment.


Yeah that’s pretty funny actually.

Ironically in certain hospital disaster-scenario planning, that’s the exact opposite of how the triage might go. Unless the older person has unique society-rebuilding skills (e.g. is a doctor themselves, scientist, etc) there’s a preference for saving the young, because they have more time ahead of them.

I assume the way he asked her the question didn’t involve it being possible to choose, though.

Still, absurd and bone chilling that someone says they would directly kill a 4 year old child to save a dying adult from dying. I mean, abortion is already child sacrifice… but killing the 4 year old is even more unambiguously child sacrifice. Might as well tie pig guts around your neck and dance around a volcano while you do it. The core evil act is the same.

Oh just noticed, the thought experiment was that both the adult and four year old were dying… still though, nothing mentioned about why the child should have to die for the adult and not vice versa.

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A screen clip of the facts from Pew (yes I know that many Catholics are disagreeing with Church teaching - just pointing out how widespread it is in the US:

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It is morally corrupt, also known as depraved, to think it is just to end the life of a four year old child to save an adults life. It may be logically consistent with her beliefs but being consistent doesn’t make those beliefs good in any way.


I mentioned this. It didn’t get addressed at the time so I can’t say for sure, but with the surrounding context I think she was basing her theoretical answer on the idea that the adult was capable of killing the child and not the other way around. She said that when two people are dying, it’s better for one person to die and not two, even if it involves directly killing one.

I literally cannot believe I’m writing these words to be honest. Like I really, really want to believe that I picked this up very, very badly but we did spend a couple of hours discussing this. I’m going to get some material her way RE double effect and basically see what happens. Thanks for the advice so far guys.

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Have to agree with the other posters. It’s very unfortunate, but I would be very wary about pursuing this relationship further.

I think the best test for a girlfriend (or boyfriend) is if you were to suddenly pass away, would you want them to pass on their moral views to your children. If the answer is no, then it’s definitely not a good idea to date, much less marry.


If you have invested a year and a half with this woman I am going to assume you love her.

Why on earth would you seek the views of absolute strangers on your relationship or, indeed, someone you care for? Without knowing either of you, nobody can give you useful advice.


Sometimes people say things they don’t really mean.


Well, Anonkun’s advice was good:

We don’t have to know a given couple to know that this statement is true. We should choose a spouse who we’d trust to get our kids to heaven (you know, as close as possible before the kids have to take their own steps), if we were to die young in childbirth or a car accident. Our spouse isn’t just for ‘us’. Choosing a spouse isn’t just about whether we ‘love’ them. It’s also about choosing someone to parent children. And we have to make that choice assuming that we die, and they’re the only parent. Assuming we won’t be around to counteract any influence, means we choose someone whose influence we actively want for our children.

Totally, it seems reasonable to me to have a longer conversation (maybe several conversations) with someone you’ve invested so much time with. But at a certain point, think about what marriage and especially parenthood means, especially assuming you die. Factor in your spouse’s beliefs and what they’ll mean for what your children grow up being taught.


I think we have much better discussions when we use moderate language.


Well, there’s a lot of avenues she may have taken to hold this type of thing.

For instance, maybe she recognizes that a child is alive but doesn’t recognize their inherent dignity, rather wrapping her idea of dignity around the reasoning of a human being, hence why she prefers an adult to a 4 year old. That’s one possibility.
Another one is she’s just thinking about “well, I have to save one…” and just chooses. But the rape exception strikes me as additional, as this isn’t about saving a life.

Instead of just cutting it off immediately, maybe do try to give some info from the Catholic point of view. A lot of people haven’t thought fully through hypothetical moral decisions. That’s what I think I’d do.

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Thank you guys.

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Maybe this is an opportunity for you to educate her on this issue. Do not worry much, have the deep discussion and see what happens.


Can you give me an example? Just curious what situation this would be. The only thing I can think of is there is only enough food for one, only one rescue option. Would this come up often?

Just a few thoughts that came to mind as I was reading your first post.

She may simply think that abdominal pregnancies are non-viable as appose to viable when in reality with medical improvements albeit a risky pregnancy for both mother and child. If she is not medically trained in obstetrics your SO may not be aware that a baby grow to a reasonable weight before birth via C-section.

A couple of thoughts came to mind, so in good faith to both you and your SO. Did you give her a clear scenario of events, or did you leave it to her to imagination to create a scenario? If she used her imagination to create a scenario then perhaps ask her what that scenario was, it may be that the adult was more accessible (based on time frames/other circumstances to help than the child.)

A pray said and I wish you all the best. Pax Christi.

If there were two people dying and only one life saving injection available then you’d have to give it to one of them. You are effectively saying: ‘You will die and you will live’. And I think most people would choose a child over an adult. But choosing the adult is different from intentionally and actively killing the kid.


There’s a scene in the film American Sniper (which was written for the film - it didn’t happen in this particular case) when a young boy approaches some soldiers with an explosive device. The sniper sees him and has a choice: Kill the boy and save his colleagues or let the boy and the soldiers get blown up.

How many people could shoot the boy? I really don’t know. But the kid was going to kill himself anyway…so he takes the shot. And half a dozen families in the US get to see their sons again.

Would I have done it? I don’t think I could. But if I had, I would have done so thinking about the families back home. I would take the responsibility and let God be my judge.

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