Abortion and Catholic Church’s Attitude

Spontaneous abortion is more commonly defined as a miscarriage, which happens involuntary and cannot be controlled. No factors cause intended miscarriages and religious ethics are on the women’s side and do not blame them for losing the fetus. On the contrary, induced abortion is an intended termination of a pregnancy, on the request of the mother, which is strictly prohibited by the ethics of the Catholic Church. However, the Church is often willing to provide psychological and material support to the mother, who is not ready for childbirth.

The use of contraceptive pills, IUDs, or other forms of medication to prevent pregnancy is also considered abortifacients. The Catholic Church explains that the life of a child starts after a man’s sperm fertilized a woman’s egg; therefore, the usage of any preventions after the intercourse is an abortion. The head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention Richard Land states that morning-after pills prevent implantations and cause the termination of a fetus (Belluck & Eckholm, 2012). Therefore, Catholic Church prohibits all prevention methods after the coition and considers them abortifacients.

Two main methods of abortion in healthcare are medical and surgical. Medical abortions involve medication that causes the death of the fetus. Such terminations can be performed within approximately two months (70 days) after insemination. The count of the gestation days is considered as the first day of a person’s most recent menstrual period (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). Medical abortion implicates the oral intake of a pill that terminates the pregnancy. The most used medications are Mifepristone, Misoprostol, and Methotrexate.

A surgical method of abortion is more complicated and has different ways of executing it. There is a menstrual aspiration method that is performed as a form of vacuuming the fetus from the womb, suction abortion that can be completed up to 3 months of pregnancy uses an electric pump to suck out the pregnancy material. The dilation and curettage method involves dilating the cervix and removing the pregnancy tissue with specific instruments. The dilation and evacuation method is most common for later pregnancy terminations, which is identical to the previous approach, thus with larger tools (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). Lastly, abdominal hysterectomy is a severe operation that terminates the pregnancy through a dissection of the abdomen and is rarely executed.

Roe v. Wade case is a lawsuit against Henry Wade – Dallas County district attorney, based on a statement by Jane Roe that the abortion policies in Texas are unconstitutional (Oyez, n.d.). She also stated that Texas laws on abortion are too restricted and unconstitutional, where they violate a list of constitutional amendments.

As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court annulled the statute that banned abortions in Texas and legalized this procedure in the United States. Moreover, the court stated that abortion is implied in the 14th amendment as a right for privacy (Oyez, n.d.). The controversial case divided the nation and evoked a wave of protests across the country.

Norma McCorvey is the plaintiff who initiated the Roe v. Wade case. Norma grew up in Texas and had a difficult childhood, where she married and got pregnant at the age of 16. McCorvey then divorced before the birth of a child and gave up the custody to her mother. The second pregnancy in 1969 is the one that caused the lawsuit. When Norma decided to abort the laws stated, it is only possible if the mother’s life is endangered. By the time the ruling was announced, the woman had given up the child for adoption again. Next decades McCorvey spend agitating for abortions and volunteering at such hospitals. By the end of the 1990s, she converted to Roman Catholicism and after that became an active anti-abortion activist for the rest of her life. Before her death in 2017, Norma confessed that the anti-abortion movement was fake and she got paid $500,000 to remain against pregnancy termination.

One of the best alternatives to abortion is giving the child up for adoption, there are thousands of people who are unable to have a child, and this can be a way of helping them. Legal guardianship is similar to adoption; thus, a person keeps some of their parenting rights. Parenting might be an option an individual can reconsider after seeking psychological support in their close circle.

All directives are retrieved from the Ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services (United States Conference 2018).

Directive 45 states that within the Catholic Church abortions are not permitted, nor they are performed in catholic health institutions under no circumstances.

46th directive explains that catholic health providers are to propose mental care for women who experienced any type of abortion.

In the 47th directive, the Catholic Church allows operations that cannot be delayed to cure significant conditions of a pregnant woman even if it may cause the death of a fetus.

48th directive prohibits any interventions in case of an extrauterine pregnancy as it contradicts moral principles of the Catholic Church and equals as an abortion.

Directive 49 allows inducing labor, however, only if it is vitally needed.

The 50th directive permits prenatal diagnosis only in cases where it does not threaten the life of the child or the mother and in cases where crucial information about pregnancy must be provided. It must be conducted under the consent of a parent, and cannot be executed with the goal of abortion.

51st directive prohibits any experiments on the unborn child, except for therapeutic experiments that will not possess any threat to the fetus with the consent of both parents.

The 66th directive strictly forbids the retrieval of a pregnancy tissue after abortions at any cost.


Belluck, P., & Eckholm, E. (2012). The New York Times.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). .

(n.d.). Roe v. Wade.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2018). Ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.

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