6/14/10

Should a woman end an ectopic pregnancy?

At No Longer Quivering, Vyckie Garrison recently posted an article on Doug Phillips’ stance concerning ectopic pregnancies. He believes it’s wrong to end them, and derisively refers to this medically necessary practice as “elective abortion.”

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows just how little respect I have for Doug Phillips as a religious leader. I’m already disinclined to take his opinions seriously, when I can just crack a Bible myself and then read exposition by actual theologians.

But this cruel, lethal stupidity is galling even for him.

Ending an ectopic pregnancy is, to put it crudely, a matter of maternal self-defense. An ectopic pregnancy is almost always lethal for the fetus – and, from what I understand, it is absolutely lethal when the fetus begins growing in a fallopian tube.

The fetus is not viable. It does not have any chance at survival. And if a woman continues with an ectopic pregnancy in a misguided attempt to carry it to term, she herself may die.

Doug Phillips’ advice isn’t based in reality; it’s based on hubris and on the assurance that he himself will never suffer an ectopic pregnancy. It’s not pro-life in the slightest, nor is this matter really a legitimate topic of debate (no matter how "irenic" and civil he wishes to be about needlessly risking the lives of women).

Phillips blathers on about the dangers of moral relativism without recognizing that this situation is completely black-and-white:
  • In a very few cases, where a fetus begins to develop outside the womb, but not in a fallopian tube, there is a tiny chance this could result in a living child. It’s understandable that a woman might wish to continue this sort of pregnancy, and hopefully her doctors will guardedly support her decision and give her the best care possible.
  • Ectopic pregnancies that grow within a fallopian tube are, even with today’s technology, always non-viable. A woman should end such a pregnancy because there is no chance the fetus will survive and a very significant risk of death for the woman. That is just a brute fact: an ectopic pregnancy of this sort is no more viable than a molar pregnancy.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Albert Schweitzer, a physician and humanitarian who expanded on how to demonstrate a practical reverence for all life even while recognizing the primacy of sentient human beings:
What does Reverence for Life say abut the relations between [humanity] and the animal world? Whenever I injury any kind of life I must be quite certain that it is necessary. I must never go beyond the unavoidable, not even in apparently insignificant things. The farmer who has mowed down a thousand flowers in his meadow in order to feed his cows must be careful on his way home not to strike the head off a single flower by the side of the road in idle amusement, for he thereby infringes on the law of life without being under the pressure of necessity.

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