The Catholic Church and the abortion of a DEAD fetus?

Note: PLEASE do NOT turn this into a debate on abortion, or the Catholic church. I just want a straight answer, please. I don’t want this moved to GD.

So basically, it’s like it says in the title: IF it is discovered that the fetus has died in the womb, does the Catholic church approve an abortion then? I think it has been possible that a woman hasn’t had a miscarriage yet, but simply a stillbirth waiting to happen.

Is this condoned? Since, I would imagine, that carrying a dead fetus would potentially be hazardous (sepsis, perhaps?)

My understanding is that the Catholic Church opposes abortion due to the sanctity of life and opposing killing of it - if it’s already dead, there’s not much to oppose.

The main thing seems to be their baptism;
“A child who dies before baptism, or a stillborn or miscarried child may be given Catholic Funeral Rites if the parents intended to have the child baptized. The remains of fetuses or stillborns should always receive reverent Christian burial if this is at all possible. These remains may be placed either in specific individual graves or in a common burial area.”

Not a good cite, but this seems to point that there’s no problem in removing the deceased foetus from the womb using a c-section.

That may be, but when I was in to get a dead fetus removed, they let some right to be abusive assholers in to lecture me on the evils of abortion, as I laid there with all the new mothers and babies waiting to get my dead baby removed before it killed me. Fuck them, and their stupid asshole beliefs. I will never use a catholic hospital again, if I have to be flown by medivac to another fucking country.

My OB/GYN severed connections with that hospital after that.

I thought abortion meant killing a fetus, so aborting a dead fetus seems strange.

If it’s dead it’s not an abortion.

aruvqan, my apologies in the name of those Catholics who can use a dictionary and who don’t think with the contents of our colons.

I’ll second both of those.

I’m agreeing here, but considering that the church technically doesn’t allow for an abortion on tubal pregnancies (at least, only reluctantly), they would consider it an “abortion”, if you will.

The church definitely does not consider the removal of a dead foetus an “abortion” in the moral sense, and has no objection to it. There is clearly no attack on human life involved, which is what concerns the church. I don’t think medics would call the procedure an “abortion” or a “termination” either. What’s being aborted in an abortion is the pregnancy, but a woman carrying a dead foetus is not pregnant.

You were abused by somebody profounding ignorant, aruvqan, and as a Catholic I’m ashamed of it.

It was always my understanding that the Catholic Church allowed an abortion if it meant to save the life of the mother.

No, it doesn’t.

The way the Irish Catholic Church puts it, if lifesaving treatment is given to a pregnant woman and the consequence of this is that the foetus dies, it’s ok. This is sometimes referred to as “indirect abortion” and they insist that it is distinct from intentionally carrying out an abortion.

They don’t formally accept that there is any situation in which abortion is the only way to save a woman’s life.

The Catholic Church DOES allow abortion where the life of the mother is threatened.

Indeed it does, as the Catholic Encyclopedia confirms.

As ruadh says, such abortions are ‘indirect’, ie the death of the baby is not the direct aim of the operation. If the mother cannot be saved otherwise and the proper steps are taken to ensure the spiritual welfare of the baby (baptism or whatever) then the RC Church will sanction it.

The procedure to get out a dead fetus out is an abortion. An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, not killing a fetus, and the same method may be used whether it’s alive or dead.

When I had a D&E after a missed miscarriage, it was labeled an abortion on the hospital papers. Don’t know why. But if your body fails to miscarry after a baby dies in utero, it can indeed become dangerous as sepsis starts.

Anyway, I’m not Catholic, but I cannot imagine that such a procedure would ‘count’ as an abortion. It’s not at all the same thing.

It’s plainly obvious that even if the procedure is technically an abortion, it’s not what most people are thinking about when they talk about “abortion.” I can’t see where any moral objection would come from.

One more thought on aruvqan’s experience: if it was indeed a Catholic hospital, it would not have participated in a procedure that clearly violated Church teachings. If a) the fetus were living, and b) her condition were not a grave threat to her own life, she would have been (more-or-less) politely advised to seek treatment elsewhere.

Whatever the situation, those who harangued her were Neanderthals* who had no business being in the room, much less spouting their venom.

*With apologies to any Neanderthals who might be reading this.

Re. indirect abortion.

Let’s say a pregnant woman is discovered to have breast cancer.

Aborting the fetus and then starting medical treatment (“it would die from the chemo anyway”) is not acceptable.

Starting medical treatment, and the fetus happens to die, is acceptable. This second option still makes it possible for the fetus to survive (it’s a numbers game), plus there may be treatment options which are less teratogenic than others (making the numbers game favor the fetus more).

In Spanish a stillbirth, a miscarriage and an abortion are the same word (aborto), although with different adjectives and verbs. I thought that “a miscarriage caused by medical treatment” wasn’t the same as “an abortion,” but apparently it is; I’ll note it.

Quoth Fubaya:

If the fetus is dead, then the pregnancy is already terminated. If “pregnancy” just meant “having tissue inside of you that’s not part of you”, then a woman (or man) would be pregnant every time she (or he) ate meat.

Quoth Nava:

Further, in such a situation, if there’s a choice between treatments, one of which is more likely to benefit the mother, and another of which is less likely to harm the fetus, the Church considers it acceptable for the mother to choose either. The only options which the Church would not consider acceptable would be those which would be more likely to harm the fetus but no increased health benefit to the mother.

As mentioned, not in the sense of an abortion done for its own sake, or as its own procedure. If a different procedure results in the death of a fetus, that’s not an abortion per se.