I just was watching the movie “The Cardinal” made in 1963 that traces the life of a priest from the beginning of his ordination on. It’s set in the early 20th Century. There’s a part in the movie when the priest’s sister is in labor and has some pelvic issues that make it impossible for her to give birth and also another medical issue that makes it impossible for a C-Section without killing the mother (the priest’s sister).
I was always under the impression that to save the life of the mother a medical treatment that doesn’t have the intent to kill the child, but the intent to save the mother with the death of the child as an unfortunate consequence was permissible. In the movie, the priest refuses to give the doctor permission to abort the baby to save the life of the mother. This part I get. Maybe it’s just because it was set early in the 20th century and they didn’t have the proper technology at that point, but if there were another procedure that would save the priest’s sister’s life that had the double effect of killing the baby, he would have been morally permissible to ok the procedure, correct?
In any case, it caused a stir in my household as the family was watching the movie and I was a bit confused on how to best explain the situation, obviously I did not live in the early 20th century so I wasn’t sure what was available at the time and if that had any effect on the fact that the priest was forced to choose the life of his sister’s child over the life of his sister.
Whats the correct moral act in this scenario? Something didn’t seem right to me in the way the scenario played out in the movie.
As a fun side fact of trivia, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger served as a technical advisor to this movie in 1963, so that also plays a role in my confusion as to everything, because he certainly would have had something to say about this particular scene as well.