What is the Catholic view on abortion if the mother's life is in danger?

If a woman’s life is in danger if she goes through the pregnancy is an abortion an option or not? Just want to get my opinion straight :slight_smile:

If there is any chance that both mother and baby will survive, it should be taken by any means. An abortion is a direct killing, so technically no. However, if there is a medical procedure that has a side effect that will cause in the death of the offspring, it can be pursued as long as the goal of the procedure was not to kill the child in the first place.

Example: A pregnant woman has cancer, while the child does not. Treatment for the woman will save her, but the child will die as a side effect. Since the goal of the treatment is not to terminate the pregnancy, the woman may go for it.

Abortion is not an option, however, other life-saving procedures that do not aim to kill the child are, even if the child may not survive as a side effect, though it may be regrettably sad. It’s best to look for another way to ensure the maximum number of lives are saved.


On occasion, life threatening risks can indeed still arise, even though rarely. As a Catholic health care institution treats and cares for both the mother and the unborn child it must commit itself never to crossing a clear, bright line: it may never directly take the life of an innocent human being as it cares for both patients.


I agree with what the other above have said. You should look up the term double effect which has to do with Christian morality. Here is a nice article about it. It talks directly to your question.



Abortion is not health care and it is NEVER acceptable - no exceptions. It is deliberate and intentional murder. Your goal is to save both mother and child. They are both equally important. You can’t kill the child to save the mother.

You should really read the article I posted and learn more about double effect. What if the doctor told you he could only save one life… I know, it’s a horrible thing to contemplate, but it could happen. You have three choices. Both die, Mother dies, or baby dies. It’s a horrible decision to make and hopefully doesn’t happen to often in today’s world.

Good metaphor I heard was its like when you’re driving home and there is a road blocked that says “road blocked - detour” and you have to take an alternate route home.

Same with Catholic view on abortion when life of mother at risk. You can’t directly kill the baby (road blocked) but you can still do whatever other steps are necessary (alternate route) to save her life, even if those other steps are likely to (unintentionally) result in harm to the baby.

Abortion is the direct killing of an innocent child in the womb and is always wrong. Treating a fatal illness of the mother which indirectly results in the death of a child in the womb is not abortion and is not immoral.


Abortion is always intrinsically evil. We may never do evil even in the pursuit of good.

When a woman is in distress or has a disease or illness during pregnancy, the doctor has two patients. He should do all he can to save both.

However, the Church does not say it is immoral for a woman to receive legitimate medical treatment for a diseased state, illness, etc. So, a woman may have cancer treatment, even if the child might not survive it. The woman may have surgery or take medication, even if the child might be impacted. Sometimes, in trying to do what can be done medically, the baby might not survive. Even if this is a foreseen outcome, it is not immoral under the principle of double effect.

What the doctor may not do is kill the baby as a treatment, as first of all, this isn’t actually a treatment for any situation and secondly it is murder.


Thanks, I have corrected my opinion on this issue. Thanks again :slight_smile: God bless

Opinion on what? Is this an actual problem being currently faced?

Medically speaking, abortion is not a procedure used to save the life of the mother, it is only used in instances to purposefully take the life of the child. In cases where the mother’s life is in danger, the child would be delivered and we would then rely on the medical providers to do what they can to preserve the lives of both. Abortion takes too much time to be used in an actual medical emergency. Delivery of the baby is the procedure used if there is an emergent situation requiring decisive medical treatment.

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The position is that the doctor has two patients.

There is however a balance of consequences to be judged. The risks the mother faces need to be balanced against the risk the treatment poses to the child.

If there is someone you are discussing this with, and they think that a woman should have an abortion for any reason, you might want to say that it is indeed a baby, that feels pain, and is growing. Just like a newborn does not look like a 2 year old, who does not look like a 14 year old.

It’s hard to imagine that if there was a situation where a mother had to sacrifice her 2 year old, that she would be agreeable to it. Most mothers would step in front of a guy shooting a gun than see their 2 year old shot.

Somehow with abortion, we’ve forgotten that a woman is carrying a baby.
This is how strong and convincing the culture has been in promoting something totally unscientific, and yet in other areas hold up science to be the measuring stick for everything else.


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