Indirect Abortion

Indirect abortion is the name given by Catholic theologians to an abortion procedure which has a therapeutic medical effect, presumably to save the life of a pregnant woman. Scholars with the National Catholic Review and make a distinction between "direct abortions" that is, abortion which is either an end or a means, and "indirect abortions", where the loss of the fetus is then considered to be a "secondary effect."

For example, if a woman is suffering an ectopic pregnancy (a fetus is developing in her fallopian tube, not the womb), a doctor may remove the fallopian tube as therapeutic treatment to prevent the woman's death. The fetus will not survive long after this, but the intention of the procedure and its action is to preserve the woman’s life. It is not a direct abortion.

While the positions in the previous two paragraphs appear in tension with one another, the relevant distinction may be between cases where the woman's life may be "in jeopardy", and cases where the woman would almost certainly die without the procedure that would incidentally destroy the fetus. However, this does not mean Catholics feel a direct abortion, even when intended to save the life of a woman, is ever acceptable.

Read more about Indirect Abortion:  Humanae Vitae, As Distinct From Therapeutic Abortion, Possible Confusion With Direct Abortion, Pope Benedict XVI Speech in Angola

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