In 2% of pregnancies, the fertilized egg implants somewhere other than in the uterine lining, often in the Fallopian tubes ("tubal pregnancy"). Ectopic pregnancy - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic.

There is no chance of a live birth. Mayo Clinic: "An ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally. The fertilized egg can't survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated."

The equivalent in a man would be placing an expandable bladder inside an organ in the abdomen, then slowly pumping fluid into it over days or weeks until something bursts.

The only known treatment is removal of the (doomed) fetus, via abortion.

How is preventing treatment, resulting in severe injury or death of the woman and no chance of a live birth, considered moral according to Christianity?

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    Are you suggesting that some medical staff are refusing to treat ectopic pregnancies by safe procedures ? To which country do you refer ?
    – Nigel J
    Jul 1, 2022 at 17:13
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    Does this answer your question? How are ectopic pregnancies supposed to be dealt with according to the Catholic Church?
    – user54757
    Jul 1, 2022 at 17:25
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    I think the question would be better titled if you added 'ectopic pregnancy' to it, as in "how is preventing ectopic pregnancy abortions moral"? Jul 1, 2022 at 18:03
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    This is a common fallacy in the abortion debate. It's obviously morally better to terminate a pregnancy to save the mother than to allow both mother and child to die, therefore it follows that abortion-on-demand for all women must be legalized. Jul 2, 2022 at 0:18
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    Who are the Christians who you think claim that laws against abortion should be relevant for ectopic pregnancies? Please edit this to add some supporting claims from Christians who think that.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 2, 2022 at 0:19

2 Answers 2


Outlawing abortion would not and does not in any country outlaw an operation to save the life of the mother in the case of ectopic pregnancies or any other non-viable pregnancy.

A "therapeutic abortion" is a procedure whose sole objective is to kill the unborn child.

In the case of an ectopic pregnancy the mother is very likely to die unless the pregnancy is ended. In such a case the unborn child will also die. So ending the pregnancy will not be killing a life but rather saving a life.. the life of the mother. The baby was going to die no matter what you did.

Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor any other denomination advocates that such life-saving procedures should be illegal or considered in the same light as "therapeutic abortion".


The question is a bit broad when it asserts, "How is preventing treatment, resulting in severe injury or death of the woman and no chance of a live birth, considered moral according to Christianity?"

I have given a more nuanced approach to abortion in this answer.

But as an analogy to how a Christian can justify abortion for the sake of a mother's life threatening psychological health, imagine the fetus being like a human bullet. The mother, in self defense, can choose to kill her own offspring so as to defend her own life. In other words, it would be the lesser of two evils to kill her own offspring in self defense.

The principle of bodily autonomy in this case functions in a similar manner to that of national state rights. From a human rights point of view, each country can set their own standards for capital punishment. It is only when capital punishment is done indiscriminately that state rights intervention can take place.

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    It would not be "the lesser of two evils" to kill the unborn child in this case. If the mother dies then the unborn child is going to die as well. So ending the pregnancy will be saving a life (the mother) and only ending the life that is going to end no matter what you do. So it is not right to call it the lesser of two evils. Ending the pregnancy in such a case would not be evil at all. Jul 1, 2022 at 20:51
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    - Andrew, there is always a chance of a miracle and doing something that results in the immediate dying of a child is a necessary evil, even if that child is going to die regardless of what is done. But, I admit, the ethics of the question could be viewed in other ways as well. See "Options in Contemporary Christian Ethics" by Norman Geisler.
    – Jess
    Jul 1, 2022 at 23:46
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    We might have to agree to disagree. I guess killing the unborn child in an ectopic pregnancy is evil in the general sense of the word. If a man has a knife raised over you to kill you and you shoot and kill him it was an evil that he had to be killed, but morally what you did was not something you need to repent of, even though it is possible that by some miracle he could have relented at the last second. Jul 2, 2022 at 9:42
  • -Andrew, I think what you are arguing for is what Geisler called "graded absolutism." Conflicting absolutism (my view) resolves the tension at the cross. We live in a world where sometimes the way out of a test is to chose the lesser of two evils, perhaps not absolutely knowing for sure in the process, and then boldly come to the cross and confess it as a sin and than experience the richness of God's forgiveness.
    – Jess
    Jul 2, 2022 at 14:47
  • Sorry, Jess, but as I say, I think we must agree to disagree. In my mind a procedure ending such a pregnancy would not be sinful at all, neither should anyone feel any guilt for it. Jul 2, 2022 at 17:40

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