"[Reimplantation] is so theoretical at this point, that I can't imagine how anybody would vote to approve this," O'Sullivan told CNA in an interview earlier this month.
"It's food for thought, no question about that. Maybe it will stimulate some kind of research to see whether this can actually be done, at least in animals."
There are three common medical procedures to address ectopic pregnancies, she noted, only one of which is widely considered to be moral.
The patient may be offered methotrexate, which is an anti-cancer drug that stops the embryo's cells from dividing; the Fallopian tube can be opened and the embryo "scooped" out, a salpingostomy; or the segment of the tube can be transected on each side and removed completely, a salpingectomy.
In all of the procedures, the embryo dies. However, in the first two, the procedure itself is an act to end the life of the embryo. A salpingectomy, in contrast, is an act to remove the damaged portion of the fallopian tube.
For this reason, salpingectomies are generally considered moral under the principle of double effect: the objective of the surgery is the removal of the affected tube, and the embryo dies as an undesired – although foreseen – side effect. Since there are no alternative procedures that can save the life of the embryo, this process is considered morally acceptable.
O'Sullivan said in her view, the methotrexate treatment and the salpingostomy are both abortions.
"What you're doing this time [in a salpingectomy] is you're taking out damaged section of tube, and since it's removed it's cut off from its blood supply, and ultimately the little baby, the little fetus, will die," O'Sullivan explained.
"In the other two cases, the baby is going to die, too. But both of them are direct attacks on the baby itself. In this latter one, you primary intent is to remove the diseased section of the tube, and you know that the outcome of that will be the loss of the pregnancy."
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer. He is based in St. Louis.