The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 21, Issue 2, Summer 2021

Cara Buskmiller
Pages 249-262

Previable Induction of Labor for Life-Threatening Maternal Disease without Placental Pathology

Pregnancy causes maternal pathology by combining maternal predispositions with healthy physiology. In maternal cardiovascular collapse, previable induction of labor is justifiable despite the definition of abortion in directive 45 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Central to this conclusion, the placenta is a fetal organ, and pregnancy is a cardiovascular condition placing new demands on the maternal cardiovascular system. Previable delivery, a morally neutral separation, addresses the cause of pathology even if fetal death is anticipated. This is acceptable under double-effect reasoning. Directive 45 defines all previable deliveries as abortions, so this analysis proposes an alternative definition established by obstetrician/gynecologists.