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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 15, Issue 4, Winter 2015

Austin J. Holgard
Pages 675-686

Contra Craniotomy: A Defense of William E. May’s Original Position

When William May first wrote Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life, his position was that to perform a craniotomy on a child to save the mother’s life constitutes a direct abortion and is not justifiable. In later editions, May rejected his earlier position in favor of one he originally argued against, most notably by Germain Grisez. The author maintains that the argu­ments surrounding craniotomies on the unborn are still of major relevance today, because they relate directly to certain controversial techniques used to manage ectopic pregnancies. He also argues that May’s original conclusion ought to be upheld, and that May’s later conclusion places too much weight on the interior intention of the actor and not enough on the act itself.

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