Wait for Brain cancer treatment till after giving birth?


Say a woman has brain cancer, and doctors tell her that they have to operate quickly and give her medication/radiation/chimo that would very likely the fetus. In this case, the principle of double-effect is in place, therefore, it would be morally justifiable to have the surgery, because it is not directly intended that the fetus be killed. Moreover, to do nothing would kill them both.

But…what if a woman is told that she has time to deliver the baby first, before receiving treatment, but that by the time she delivers the baby, the cancer would spread enough that it would be too late to save her? I imagine Catholic moralists would say that she would have to wait to deliver the child, and then die of the cancer…unless I’m wrong here?


no, the Church does not require the woman to forego the treatment. If she chooses to do so, that is heroic virtue-- which is exactly what Gianna Molla did and why she is a Saint.


I appreciate your reply, 1ke. But would you please articulate why this is the case? I mean, in the case I presented, it is actually possible to save the child, whereas in an ectopic pregnancy, for instance, it is not.

The two cases seem different to me.


They aren’t. A woman with child is allowed by “the principle of double effect” to recieve life saving treatments, if there is no direct intention or attempt to hurt (kill) the unborn baby.


There is no obligation to take upon oneself, by denying oneself medical treatment, potentially grave risk.


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