Moral absolutism and ectopic pregnancy

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (1):61 – 74 (2001)
Abstract
If one accepts a version of absolutism that excludes the intentional killing of any innocent human person from conception to natural death, ectopic pregnancy poses vexing difficulties. Given that the embryonic life almost certainly will die anyway, how can one retain ones moral principle and yet adequately respond to a situation that gravely threatens the life of the mother and her future fertility? The four options of treatment most often discussed in the literature are non-intervention, salpingectomy (removal of tube with embryo), salpingostomy (removal of embryo alone), and use of methotrexate (MXT). In this essay, I review these four options and introduce a fifth (the milking technique). In order to assess these options in terms of the absolutism mentioned, it will also be necessary to discuss various accounts of the intention/foresight distinction. I conclude that salpingectomy, salpingostomy, and the milking technique are compatible with absolutist presuppositions, but not the use of methotrexate.
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