Abortion & Surgery by Patrick Henry Reardon

Abortion & Surgery

In an April 2001 editorial of this journal I argued that there is no moral parity between the deliberate abortion of an unborn child and certain other medical procedures in which the death of the unborn child is inevitable even though not directly willed. These latter procedures, I reasoned, may be morally responsible applications of the principle of double effect. By way of illustration, I referred to the removal of a fallopian tube, in which a fetus has become lodged, even though that surgical procedure (salpingectomy) necessarily involves the loss of the unborn child.

In response to that editorial I have received letters from members of the medical profession who challenge my position in two respects. First, they argue that my example is outdated, because we now have new surgical procedures, other than the removal of the fallopian tube, to deal . . .