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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 11, Issue 4, Winter 2011

Rev. Kevin L. Flannery, SJ
Pages 691-704

Vital Conflicts and the Catholic Magisterial Tradition

This article considers M. Therese Lysaught’s analysis of an apparent abortion that occurred in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2009. Since Lysaught invokes it, the article considers Rev. Martin Rhonheimer’s theory about the bearing of vital conflict situations on the object of the act performed. A vital conflict situation is present when, for instance, the life of a mother might be spared if her fetus is aborted, otherwise she and the fetus will die. The article argues that the use of such situations in this way by Lysaught and Rhonheimer (and possibly others) is incompatible with Church teaching. The article concludes by suggesting that certain cases might be analyzed in such a way that the mother’s life is saved and the fetus dies but there is no direct abortion. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 11.4 (Winter 2011): 691–704.