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US: Got a non-viable pregnancy that will kill you?

November 6, 2012

Bad luck if you’re a Catholic.

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus. It occurs in approximately 1% of conceptions. It typically grows in the fallopian tube, but rarely an ectopic pregnancy grows into the ovary or  cervix….

This is how women die from ectopic pregnancies, they bleed to death…

The recommended treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is surgical removal or systemic methotrexate (a cancer drug that kills the rapidly dividing trophoblasts, which are in many ways like cancer cells)…

An ectopic pregnancy is not destined to be a baby. It can never, ever grow to viability. It will, however, grow to injure the pregnant woman. So you’d think treatment shouldn’t be controversial…unless of course you want care at some Catholic hospitals.

Yes, some Catholic ethicists argue that the catholic “Directives” preclude physicians at Catholic hospitals from managing ectopic pregnancies in a  way that involves direct action on the embryo. So a woman can have her whole tube removed (an unnecessary procedure that could reduce her future fertility), but she can not have the pregnancy plucked out (as is done with the standard therapy, a salpingostomy, where a small incision is made in the tube and the pregnancy removed) and she most certainly could not have the methotrexate.

How common is this practice? Well, it is pretty sad that someone had to study it. According to a study from 2011 by Foster e. al., (Womens Health Issues, 2011) some Catholic hospitals refuse to offer methotrexate (three in this study of 16 hospitals). The lack of methotrexate resulted in changes in therapy, transferring patients to other facilities, and even administering it surreptitiously. All of these expose women to unnecessary risks, expense and are, quite frankly, wrong.

Dr. Jen Gunter

“Wrong” here being polite medical terminology for ‘insanely fucking stupid’.

  1. corio37 permalink

    ‘The fetus’ may not be a pregnancy, but neither is it a child. In fact since ectopic pregnancies are normally diagnosed at about the sixth week of pregnancy, what we are talking about here is a spherical blob containing an embryo about the size of a lentil. And half of them will have already been aborted naturally by your God — if you believe in him — at some stage prior to this. By the way, it’s a little rough, don’t you think, that God carries out millions of spontaneous abortions without a stain on his character as far as the Catholic faith is concerned? Don’t you think you should be going after HIM first, before you start worrying about the much less frequent cases of human intervention?

    But if you think it’s worth putting the life and health and continued fertility of an adult woman at risk for a non-sentient blob of flesh the size and shape of a bloody lentil, you will need to explain why. Sometimes the end DOES justify the means.

  2. The fetus is not a pregnancy. Pregnancy is the state the woman’s body is in when she is with-child. If the child is already diseased, the child’s body can be removed. Also partial removal of the Fallopian tube is morally acceptable whether the child is alive or deceased.

    The teaching flows from the moral principle of double effect and in rejection of the notion that the ends justify the means.

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