CMA and NCBC Respond to Misleading Statement from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Physicians for Reproductive Health:Abortion Can Be Medically Necessary
The Catholic Medical Association and the National Catholic Bioethics Center recognize the obligation to treat both patients, the mother and the unborn child, when a life-threatening pathological situation arises during pregnancy. Certain pathological situations, like infected membranes(chorioamnionitis), can allow for a treatment of the mother to directly remedy the infection, for example, by inducing labor to expel the infected membranes, and tolerating the unintended loss of the life of the pre-viable child. Such interventions are not direct abortions, and are justifiable under the principle of double effect, because the death of the unborn child is not intended nor is it the means by which the mother’s life or health is protected. Certain other kinds of pathological situations during pregnancy, such as pulmonary hypertension or cardiac disease, can present a heavy burden on the mother and family as well as challenges to health care providers. They require tailored interventions in the form of expectant management, at least until viability of the unborn, to try to save both mother and child. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Physicians for Reproductive Health, in a recent joint statement,offer the following problematic declaration:
“There are situations where pregnancy termination in the form of an abortion is the only medical intervention that can preserve a patient’s health or save their life.”
Their “remedy” of directly and intentionally terminating one patient’s life as a means of “helping” another is egregiously unethical and represents a failure to do precisely what they declare, namely, to “preserve a patient’s health or save their life.”
Instead they are counseling the focused misuse of medicine to destroy rather than to heal the life of the in utero patient. Direct abortion is never medical care, nor is it morally equivalent to inducing labor to remove a pathology, and under no circumstances can a patient under the care of a health care provider be abandoned in this way and targeted for extermination, even if another person might derive benefit. Both patients deserve better. Both deserve the devoted care and full extent of healing treatments made available by modern therapeutic medicine.
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