Ectopic Pregnancy Care in Catholic Hospitals: Dangerous to Women’s Health and Fertility

In Catholic health care ministries that strictly follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care, women with ectopic pregnancies get substandard care.  How do we know?  Because physicians are prohibited from using drugs, like methotrexate, that the Catholic Church and its bishops believe directly targets the nonviable, life-threatening embryo.  And this is never allowed.

What is methotrexate?

According to WebMD, methotrexate can be used to end an early ectopic pregnancy and to prevent the growth of any embryonic or fetal cells that are left behind after surgery to end an ectopic pregnancy.  

And according to the Director of Education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, methotrexate is morally objectionable because: “the difference in how the baby dies is, in fact, critical. There is always a difference between killing someone directly and allowing someone to die of indirect causes.”

It’s only in the context of religion that a nonviable embryo that threatens a woman’s life would be called a “baby.”

What Catholic ethicists and moralists refuse to acknowledge is that cells that present a life-threatening danger and that have no chance of becoming a living breathing baby are not “a baby,” they are evidence of a pregnancy gone awry that should be dealt with in the most humane, medically noninvasive way possible.

It’s outrageous that so many women across the United States have had Fallopian tubes removed unnecessarily, simply because Catholic moralists, including the Catholic bishops, insist that a tiny set of cells that can never become a living, breathing infant, is somehow a “baby.”

It is this type of thinking and twisted view of morality that puts women’s lives at risk, and it’s a key reason why Catholic health care is becoming synonymous with “dangerous to women’s heath.”

When used appropriately, “medical therapy of ectopic pregnancy is appealing over surgical options for a number of reasons, including eliminating morbidity from surgery and general anesthesia, potentially less tubal damage, and less cost and need for hospitalization.”

If you’re a woman who had a Fallopian tube removed in a Catholic hospital because it was the only “morally appropriate” choice, you may well have lost an important part of your body when administration of a drug could have saved it.  And doesn’t that seem barbaric?




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