Why did USCCB defend a dangerous forced c-section


During the late 80s, terminally ill Angela Carder was forced to undergo a dangerous c-section to save her unborn child. Angela died 2days later as a result of the surgery. Her family filed a successful law suit in response. Only if the c-section is to save the mother’s life or if the mother’s chances of surviving a c-section are high can a c-section be justified. If a c-section isn’t to save the mother’s life&the chances of the mother surviving the c-section are low, then a c-section would be a direct attack on the mother, thus unjustifiable even to save the unborn child’s life. Aquinas taught so. Yet following the law suit the USCCB defended the action of a forced dangerous c-section. Why? If delivering a pre viable baby in the cases of Savita Halappanavar & Tamesha Means was a direct attack on the child, then isn’t cutting a mother open without a reasonable chance for her surviving a direct attack?


I suppose there’s a good question wrapped up in that, and I have no answer. I’d like to know what the answers are, however.


The USCCB doesn’t have any real authority as far as I’m aware (if I am wrong let me be corrected).

I don’t know the details of the case. How was it forced? Like, the mother didn’t want it to happen, was she in a coma, was there grave risk to the baby if it didn’t happen?

I guess they wanted to defend the baby. Whether they were right in this or not, I dunno since I dunno the details.




Without more details, it would be difficult to say.


The hospital got a court order for her to have a c-section against the wishes of her family and obstetricians, who opposed it on the grounds that neither mother nor would survive. It’s believed that the c-section was believed to have hastened her death. After Carder’s death her family, the ACLU, RFP, had the court order reversed. The USCCB however defended the court order.
The point is, while c-sections are usually safe, I don’t think it’s right perform one if it threatens the mother’s life.


What did the mother herself want? Or was she comatose or something similar? Why did they want to do the c section? Was the baby in mortal danger?


She was too medicated to make her wishes clear. It was feared she would die before carrying the pregnancy to term.

The point is, not only is it wrong to force people into a medical procedure, it’s more wrong perform a medical procedure that will hasten someone’s death, even to save another’s life.
Most c-sections lengthen the mother’s life or at least don’t shorten it, but this one did the opposite, making it more wrong.


Well, an abortion wouldn’t have been more “righter”. Is there any evidence to support the claim that she would have lived with an alternate procedure?


Right. When you have a human with another human inside of them, there are only so many options. What did they think was the better option? I doubt the USCCB defended the decision from a medical standpoint, as that isn’t their business. They probably defended it as a moral choice, presuming it was believed that was the safest option even if it turned out they were mistaken. However, if the baby was in there, it was going to come out somehow.


They could’ve just kept her comfortable until her death.


I have no idea why the USCCB does half the stuff they do, much less some weird case in the 80s. My job is to form my conscious as a Catholic and Worship my God.


They could’ve stuck to just keeping her in stable condition until death.


What does the alternative to the C-section? What did the doctors and the mother’s family want to do?


Keeping her stable until death.


That sounds like a really difficult case and I wouldn’t blame people too much if they come to the wrong decision. I could see how someone would think that they would be saving a life.
But, how did the c section hasten her death? And did they know it would hasten her death? Did she make any sort of ‘living will’ beforehand about choosing her or her baby if a choice needed to be made?

I dunno. But, I don’t think the USCCB’s decisions and support for certain things by themselves are binding on Catholics; only insofar as it mirrors Church teaching would this be so.


From what I’ve read, it was stated before the the procedure that she would die sooner as a result.
I don’t think we’re supposed to value one life over the other, only save what we can save, and by just means.


This is a link to a description of the case by an advocacy group. The USCCB’s involvement is not mentioned, so I don’t know how they were involved.

Angela Carder was being treated at George Washington University Medical Center, which is not a Catholic institution.

Carder had survived cancer twice and her resulting condition made her pregnancy high-risk. While pregnant, a tumor was discovered in her lung. She expressed very strongly that she wanted to fight against the cancer, which, she was warned, might endanger the baby.

Her condition suddenly deteriorated, and the hospital went to court to be allowed to perform the C-section. The court agreed and mandated the C-section.

Under Catholic teaching, the C-section (given the situation as described) was in no way morally necessary. The baby had little chance to survive --both because of his or her gestational age and because both mother and baby had been deprived of oxygen when Carder’s condition had deteriorated-- and the operation further endangered the mother (who was in a precarious condition in either case).

This was not a case in which a C-section was performed instead of an abortion.

A C-section is not the same as an abortion, nor is it the same thing as “delivering a pre-viable baby.” I don’t know enough about the Means case to see how it relates, but in the case of Savita Halappanavar, she seems to have died due more to doctors’ not having realized the seriousness of her condition than to lack of an abortion. Her treatment was criticized on several grounds.

As to why the USCCB defended the actions of the hospital administration, the court, and the ultimate C-section, it’s hard to say given the information I can find about the case.

Perhaps if you ask a question regarding the general principles surrounding the aspect you are trying to tease out here, we would be able to help you more.


I know she wasn’t at a Catholic hospital, & I’m not saying an abortion should’ve been performed, that would’ve shortened her as well.
The point is that the Bishops, while teaching against endangering the unborn for the sake of the mother, defended a procedure that endangered a mother for the sake of the child. This implies that it is immoral to kill a baby by “abortion” but moral to kill a mother via a c-section.


A C Section is not risk free but I would argue that it is not ordered towards the death of the mother.

The goal of abortion is the death of the child.

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