Q&A on Ectopic Pregnancy

Beautiful young woman lying on bed and holding hands on her stomach.

QUESTION: The doctor said I may have a tubal pregnancy. Is that human life? Is it possible to move it to the uterus? Or do they just have to kill off the egg in the tube?

ANSWER: An “ectopic pregnancy” is when an egg, after fertilization, fails to make it to the uterine wall and embeds elsewhere, often inside the fallopian tube (called a “tubal pregnancy”). The short answer to your question is, “yes, it is a human life.” Scripture refers to life beginning at conception (Psalm 51:5), which is the moment of fertilization.

An ectopic pregnancy presents a real danger to the mother and the developing child. We lack the technology to “unembed” that embryo from the fallopian tube wall and embed it within the uterine wall. If left without intervention an assortment of sad things occurs. First, the baby will try to continue to develop and will be unable to do so sufficiently. The fallopian tube walls are not able to sustain a pregnancy. Second, the diameter of a fallopian tube is roughly around 1 cm. When a developing child affixes to the fallopian tube wall he or she exceeds the diameter of the fallopian tube in just a few weeks. From that point on the developing child will still be trying to grow, at a slower rate than if attached to the uterine lining, creating pressure, tearing, and eventually bursting of the fallopian tube.

A ruptured fallopian tube can cause serious internal bleeding and endanger the life of the mother.

We sometimes characterize a tubal pregnancy as an example of the rare circumstance where abortion is permitted. It is sometimes referred to as the “exception clause” in pro-life position statements. More accurately, a Christian seeks to preserve what life she can. With an unattended tubal pregnancy, there are significant and real possibilities for losing both the life of the child and the life of the mother. A child cannot survive a tubal pregnancy and it cannot be rescued. If it could, a mother would want to take steps to do so.

In this circumstance, however, a mother will want to take action to preserve and protect the life that can be preserved and protected. There is only one choice and that is to remove the pregnancy BEFORE serious damage occurs.

While stating all of this can sometimes sound cold or insensitive, we do not mean to be so. Throughout any dealing with any life at any stage, we are keenly aware that it is God’s creation for which we are called upon to be God’s stewards over that life. Sometimes, in other circumstances of life and death, we do all we can to protect and preserve life, but we are limited by circumstances (i.e., location, resources, skill, knowledge, etc.). We accept that even in death God has given us hope through Jesus Christ. Any action taken to preserve what life we can is indeed an act of stewardship for life. We mourn any loss of life, and yet we entrust such circumstances to the perfect providence of a loving God who has the best interests of his people in mind (Romans 8:28).

You will want to explore a second opinion to assure the diagnosis is correct. If it is correct, act quickly to preserve the life that you can.

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