St. Gianna Beretta Molla was a pediatrician, with degrees in medicine and surgery, who opened her own practice. Later she met her husband, an engineer and had three children.
In her fourth pregnancy, her doctor discovered a tumor in her uterus.
They gave her three options; abortion, a hysterectomy (which would have removed her whole uterus, thus killing the child), or a surgery to remove as much of the tumor as they could without harming the child.
This third option would not guarantee her survival; the tumor could grow back.
The Church forbids abortion, but if a child dies in the womb as an unintended consequence of a surgery that would save the life of a mother, that surgery is morally permissible.
In this case, Gianna could have chosen the hysterectomy, saving her life, because it was a normal procedure to remove a tumor like Gianna’s, even if her child died as a result.
However, Gianna chose to not think of herself. The third option would preserve her child’s life, and could be enough to save her life as well. It would be enough for her to make it full term, and she could undergo other treatments after.
Her motto for the rest of the pregnancy was “Whatever God wants”. She knew that the third option was the most dangerous for her, but she knew God is supreme, and could preserve her life with treatments after, or take it, and she was not concerned.
She told the doctors and her family “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.”
Gianna delivered the baby, Gianna Emanuela, via C-section, and was rushed off to treatment. They did all they could, but a week later Gianna died of septic peritonitis.
Gianna didn’t just reject abortion, and she didn’t sacrifice her life for her child like we
would say if a mother threw herself in the way of an oncoming bullet, but she simply thought of herself last, commending her very life to God, and put her children first.
That’s the action of a Saint.