Is Abortion Allowed in Order to Save the Life of the Mother?



Q. Isn’t abortion allowed in order to save the life of the mother?

A. Never. We never do evil that good may come. However, either your or your teachers may have misunderstood the following sort of circumstances.

There are instances in which it is legitimate for an expectant mother to undergo certain medical or surgical procedures that will save her life, even if these procedures inevitably involve the death of her unborn child. In these cases it is not a question of intentionally aborting the child. They involve, rather, accepting the loss of the child as an unavoidable consequence of caring for the mother´s health.

The clearest and surest example is the ectopic pregnancy. As everyone knows, should the fetus become lodged in the oviduct or fallopian tube, its continued growth will result in the death of both child and mother. A normal and proper procedure in this case is the removal of the fallopian tube, from which the death of the unborn child inevitably follows. In this case the death of the child is not sought, nor is the mother´s life saved by the child´s dying.

This is not an abortion. Quite simply, the mother´s life is saved by the surgical removal of the oviduct, not by the death of her child. If this reasoning is too subtle for some American minds to follow, well, the available evidence suggests that just about any coherent thinking these days is too subtle for some American minds to follow.

A similar dilemma would arise in the case of an expectant mother diagnosed with uterine cancer. The death of the child obviously would result from the removal of the cancerous organ, but it is not the death of the child that is deliberately sought, nor is the mother´s life saved as a result of the child´s death. This is not an abortion in the sense used by moral theology; it is just a standard application of the ethical principle known as “double effect,” which is undoubtedly what the magazine in question, an Orthodox journal that takes its theology seriously, intended to say.

Unfortunately, however, given a chance to correct its earlier slip, the magazine compounded the difficulty by asserting that “the Church teaches that the mother must be saved.” No, strictly speaking, this is not true either; such a very tough medical decision is normally a matter of the mother´s choice, and I am familiar with no teaching of the Orthodox Church that would oblige a mother´s conscience to value her own life over her child´s. The mother´s life is not intrinsically of greater value than the child´s, and every mother known to me, if the choice were ineluctable, would value her child´s life above her own.

It is interesting to observe that the Roman Catholic Church recently honored with canonical beatification a woman who died in 1962 in consequence of choosing not to undergo the surgical procedure just mentioned. Even though she knew that it would result in her death, Gianna Molla carried her baby to term and then died a week later.
Her little girl grew up and was on hand in St. Peter´s Square to see her mother raised to the dignity of the altar. From CatholicNet

At her mother's canonization.

At her mother's canonization.

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2 Responses

  1. I nor disagree or agree with your statment. But dont you think that bringing a baby into this world that you are not goin to be able to take care of is also wrong. You have to look at it in both perseptions because yes killing a baby is horrible and wrong but bringing a baby into a unstable lifestyle is not right either.

  2. It is better to place the baby up for adoption. This is difficult I realize but after a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock there are no pain-free choices. Giving life is a beautiful choice. Killing the innocent is always and everywhere EVIL.

    The best and painless decision is to wait until one is safe in the committment of marriage before engaging in sex. If he really loves YOU and not just the self-centered pleasure he obtains, he will wait.

    The old fashioned advice that the best way to know if he really LOVES ME, my whole self, the person I am is to wait until the man marries me instead of being an unpaid whore.

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