TUCSON, Arizona.- Edward J. Weisenburger, Bishop of Tucson, has released a message regarding the difference between an Ectopic Pregnancy which would require an abortion to save the mother’s health and the abortion itself.
This is the full message:
There are some in the media who are presenting the issue of an ectopic pregnancy as a potential crisis, should Arizona further restrict abortions. I find myself compelled to correct that false assertion.
An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized ovum implants tragically outside the uterus, posing a grave danger to the life of both mother and child. 98% of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes. The growing baby stretches the fallopian tube to the point of rupture, typically within the first 8 weeks of gestation. At this point the baby dies and the mother’s life is greatly at risk as well. Regrettably, current media coverage falsely indicates that a woman with an ectopic pregnancy would be left to die unless pro-abortion laws are passed.
The Catholic Church has long maintained that the surgical removal of a fallopian tube with a fertilized ovum within it is morally acceptable. It is not a direct, intended abortion and the practice is fully licit in Catholic hospitals. Indeed, I do not believe any bishop would endorse legislation that would prevent treatment of an ectopic pregnancy. Moreover, legislation for Arizona excludes treatment for ectopic pregnancies from laws restricting abortion.
We live in deeply troubling times and need to weigh carefully the credibility of information presented by those representing the pro-abortion industry. For a better understanding of the topic please Bishop shared an article by Fray Charles Grondin named “Ectopic Pregnancy and Double Effect”.
What is the Church’s teaching on ectopic pregnancies?
Moral actions that produce two effects need to be evaluated under the Catholic understanding of the principle of double effect:
- The action must be either morally good or neutral.
- The bad effect must not be the means by which the good effect is achieved.
- The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect; the bad effect can in no way be intended and must be avoided if possible.
- The good effect must be at least equivalent in proportion to the bad effect.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized ovum implants in the fallopian tube or in some other location. A mother facing a tubal pregnancy risks imminent rupture of the fallopian tube, and thus, there exists a danger to the lives of both the mother and the child.
Removing the fallopian tube is considered in accordance with the principle of double effect:
- Removing a part of the body that is about to rupture and cause the death of the individual is a morally good action.
- The death of the child is not the direct intention of the procedure. It is the removal of the fallopian tube that saves the life of the mother, not causes the death of the child.
- The death of the child is not willed and would be avoided if at all possible—if, for example, re-implantation in the womb were reasonably possible.
- The life of the mother is, of course, equal to the life of the child.