Catholic View of Therapeutic Abortions

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by neal4christ, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. neal4christ

    neal4christ
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Messages:
    1,815
    Likes Received:
    0
    In my ethics class we are discussing the topic of abortion. I just have a question for all the Catholics (others are welcome too, I guess [​IMG] ): What is the official stance on therapeutic abortions?

    For those who don't know, therapeutic abortions are abortions performed when the mother's life is in danger.

    Specifically, I am concerned with your views with regards to ectopic or tubal pregnancies (when the fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube, thus eventually causing hemorrhage and death of both child and mother) and, say, when a mother is diagnosed with uterine cancer and needs radiation or chemotherapy (thus killing the baby as a result of the treatment). Generally, I am referring to only the times when either the mother and/or child will definitely lose their lives (as best as in our human, finite brains we can determine definite).

    I am just wondering what the RCC's view on this is. I found the topic intriguing and thought provoking.

    Thanks all!

    In Christ,
    Neal
     
  2. LaRae

    LaRae
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    Tubal (aka Etopic) pregnancies are one of the rare times the Church agrees that the child cannot survive to term and the life of the mother is in grave danger, and realizes that necessary treatment will cause the child to die.

    This would apply to most any situation where the life of the mother was in grave danger. Realize there are ALOT of women who, especially in the cancer situation, would risk waiting for medical treatment in order to save the child....and then there are women who would not. This would be a decision that the husband and wife would need to make after talking to their priest.


    LaRae

    P.S. a reminder...we are Catholics, not all Catholics are Roman Catholic.
     
  3. trying2understand

    trying2understand
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2001
    Messages:
    3,316
    Likes Received:
    0
    Any particular reason why you ask only for the Catholic teaching on this?

    Be that as it may, this should answer your question.


    "It is evident that the determination of what is right or wrong in human conduct belongs to the science of ethics and the teaching of religious authority. Both of these declare the Divine law, "Thou shalt not kill". The embryonic child, as seen above, has a human soul; and therefore is a man from the time of its conception; therefore it has an equal right to its life with its mother; therefore neither the mother, nor medical practitioner, nor any human being whatever can lawfully take that life away. The State cannot give such right to the physician; for it has not itself the right to put an innocent person to death. No matter how desirable it might seem to be at times to save the life of the mother, common sense teaches and all nations accept the maxim, that "evil is never to be done that good may come of it"; or, which is the same thing, that "a good end cannot justify a bad means". Now it is an evil means to destroy the life of an innocent child. The plea cannot be made that the child is an unjust aggressor. It is simply where nature and its own parents have put it. Therefore, Natural Law forbids any attempt at destroying fetal life.

    The teachings of the Catholic Church admit of no doubt on the subject. Such moral questions, when they are submitted, are decided by the Tribunal of the Holy Office. Now this authority decreed, 28 May, 1884, and again, 18 August, 1889, that "it cannot be safely taught in Catholic schools that it is lawful to perform . . . any surgical operation which is directly destructive of the life of the fetus or the mother." Abortion was condemned by name, 24 July, 1895, in answer to the question whether when the mother is in immediate danger of death and there is no other means of saving her life, a physician can with a safe conscience cause abortion not by destroying the child in the womb (which was explicitly condemned in the former decree), but by giving it a chance to be born alive, though not being yet viable, it would soon expire. The answer was that he cannot. After these and other similar decisions had been given, some moralists thought they saw reasons to doubt whether an exception might not be allowed in the case of ectopic gestations. Therefore the question was submitted: "Is it ever allowed to extract from the body of the mother ectopic embryos still immature, before the sixth month after conception is completed?" The answer given, 20 March, 1902, was: "No; according to the decree of 4 May, 1898; according to which, as far as possible, earnest and opportune provision is to be made to safeguard the life of the child and of the mother. As to the time, let the questioner remember that no acceleration of birth is licit unless it be done at a time, and in ways in which, according to the usual course of things, the life of the mother and the child be provided for". Ethics, then, and the Church agree in teaching that no action is lawful which directly destroys fetal life. It is also clear that extracting the living fetus before it is viable, is destroying its life as directly as it would be killing a grown man directly to plunge him into a medium in which he cannot live, and hold him there till he expires.

    However, if medical treatment or surgical operation, necessary to save a mother's life, is applied to her organism (though the child's death would, or at least might, follow as a regretted but unavoidable consequence), it should not be maintained that the fetal life is thereby directly attacked. Moralists agree that we are not always prohibited from doing what is lawful in itself, though evil consequences may follow which we do not desire. The good effects of our acts are then directly intended, and the regretted evil consequences are reluctantly permitted to follow because we cannot avoid them. The evil thus permitted is said to be indirectly intended. It is not imputed to us provided four conditions are verified, namely:

    That we do not wish the evil effects, but make all reasonable efforts to avoid them;
    That the immediate effect be good in itself;
    That the evil is not made a means to obtain the good effect; for this would be to do evil that Good might come of it -- a procedure never allowed;
    That the good effect be as important at least as the evil effect.
    All four conditions may be verified in treating or operating on a woman with child. The death of the child is not intended, and every reasonable precaution is taken to save its life; the immediate effect intended, the mother's life, is good -- no harm is done to the child in order to save the mother -- the saving of the mother's life is in itself as good as the saving of the child's life."

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01046b.htm
     
  4. neal4christ

    neal4christ
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Messages:
    1,815
    Likes Received:
    0
    Because I think Catholics hold THE truth. [​IMG] No, really because I am not a Catholic and I know that you are outspoken against abortion (something I agree on you with), so I was interested to know how you guys deal with this difficult situation. I honestly was a little suprised that it is accepted that this was an okay situation for abortion, so I wanted to see if it was across the board. However, the more I think on it, the more I tend to agree, although I do tend to feel that we may place too much trust in doctors and not enough in God. In the cancer situation, if my wife and I were faced with it, we would probably take our "chances" and go full term before treatment. However, we are not in that situation, so I can't say for sure.

    Do you think I have ulterior motives for asking? If you do, you have read too much conspiracy theory stuff. ;)

    In Christ,
    Neal
     

Share This Page

Loading...