Wow. That’s quite the comment thread we’ve got on Andrea’s previous post. I am delighted with the discussion. Because I’m learning from it, yes, but also because our readers are debating a pretty contentious issue with great clarity, compassion and civility. (We’ve got cool readers.)
One of the things the commenters brought up that I think it worth considering again is that the victim of early inductions are not the mothers so much as the babies. I’ll admit that my first thought when I read that Post article was to think about the pregnant mother in danger of dying. And really, when a situation occurs where the husband or other family member has to agree to early induction to save the life of the mother (these cases do happen; I know of at least two), and has about 41 seconds to make a decision, it’s hard to see it any other way. When the best information available, in an emergency situation, is that the unconscious mother (and baby) will die within the hour if we let nature take its course but the mother will be saved (and maybe the baby as well; in the 2 cases I am familiar with they survived) if we induce, what is a husband supposed to do? I have a hard time believing that what he’s agreeing to is infanticide.
Cases where the choice is between the mother and her baby dying and the mother surviving (maybe the baby, too) are clear to me. These are about both mother and baby. Cases where induction is performed for reasons that are, let’s say, less serious are a lot less clear to me. The mother’s convenience or peace of mind are certainly important, but not nearly as much as the life of another human being, regardless of how difficult it might be due to severe anomaly. I contend that these cases should be about the baby, not so much about the mother.
I don’t know enough about the particulars of St. Joseph’s hospital. I do not know Father Prieur, and I am certainly not qualified to judge whether his actions are properly Catholic or not. I would be curious to know if there is consensus among pro-lifers, and among our readers, with my distinction in the paragraph above. Do most of us agree there can be cases where it’s about both mother and baby?
Tanya wonders if we’re splitting hairs here: I’m in agreement with early induction for two reasons only. The first is a situation I was made aware of when I was pregnant. There are instances when the baby is no longer thriving due to conditions in the womb — not adequately growing or gaining weight due to a lack of nutrients getting to her. Clearly, early induction here is for the benefit of the baby.
The second instance is based on the health of the mother. The mother is the life support of the baby. If she is going to die if she continues her pregnancy, it seems logical that early induction would be in the best interests of both baby and mother.
Even as pro-lifers, are we always analyzing these issues from the standpoint that the child in the womb deserves equal rights to any other human being? A useful parallel, I’ve found, is the treatment of conjoined twins. Without question, the medical world attributes both twins with equal rights. However there are instances where one twin will die and the other will live. One such case is Jodie and Mary. I’m not suggesting that the actions taken here were ethically irreproachable. I don’t envy anyone who has such a choice to make. But the rights of the twins were equal out of the gate, which is more than we can say for most cases of early induction.by