Monday, May 17, 2010

A nun approves life-saving abortion and is ex-communicated. What??

I might need someone to either explain to me, or point me toward an explanation, of how the Catholic Church thinks. Because this? This makes no sense to me. I don't know, maybe I should stop trying to seek explanation. I know not all people of the Catholic faith agree with what happened, but seemingly the Church does.

What happened: A nun at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix -- Sister Margaret McBride, an administrator at the hospital -- "was part of a hospital ethics committee that approved the termination of an eleven-week-old fetus after the mother developed a case of pulmonary hypertension that threatened to kill her if she continued with her pregnancy." As a result of her role in this ("this" being an abortion), the nun was condemned and excommunicated by Thomas J. Olmsted, the Catholic bishop of Phoenix.

Here we have a woman who is pregnant, who developed a life-threatening illness, who was medically advised that an abortion would most likely save her life; where, conversely, continuing the pregnancy would likely result in her death. And she was just 11 weeks pregnant. Had she died within weeks or even a couple months after this diagnosis, the fetus would have died, too.

From the Washington Post (emphasis mine):
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, indicated in a statement that the Roman Catholic involved was "automatically excommunicated" because of the action. The Catholic Church allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus.

"I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese," Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. "I am further concerned by the hospital's statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother's underlying medical condition.

"An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means."

Olmsted added that if a Catholic "formally cooperates" in an abortion, he or she is automatically excommunicated. 
First of all, is there really any difference between "directly" killing the fetus and the fetus dying from a "secondary" effect? Sure, you might not be performing an actual abortion, but if doctors know a treatment is going to kill a fetus and the treatment is given anyway, is that really any different from an actual abortion? (And wouldn't an actual abortion be safer for the woman in most of these instances?) Second, according to this bishop (who I assume is speaking for the Church?), fetuses trump women every time. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a woman is going to die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, there's nothing you can do but let her die. Right? According to this? Third: How does the Catholic Church react to cases of self defense? As in "Father, I had to shoot this man because he was going to kill me." Is that okay, or not okay? Because that's what really happened here. Self defense. Preserving your own life before allowing another to kill you first.

There are many areas that I and the Catholic Church disagree on. But to sit here and say that this woman should have DIED before she should have had an abortion is unfathomable to me. Her death wouldn't have even saved the fetus, which is apparently the ultimate goal of the Church in these situations. I mean, can you really be "pro-life" when you advocate that a mother-to-be should die? At least the hospital did the right thing and is defending its decision, as it should.

How do we go about getting the Catholic Church's influence out of public sphere in this way? Out of influencing legislation like the health care bill? Out of saying things like "condoms cause AIDS" and possibly influencing entire populations into believing that lie? Out of policing birth control? How, in this day and age, are we still letting any religion have this kind of power?

If I am ever in need of medical care of any kind, please do everything in your power to take me to a real hospital, and not a Catholic "hospital." Please and thanks.

More reading:
  • Huffington Post: "After St. Joseph's: Are Women Still Safe in Catholic Hospitals?" (This is must-read.)
  • Merger Watch: "Hospitals and Religious Restrictions."
  • The Arizona Republic: "Nun at St. Joseph's Hospital rebuked over abortion to save woman."
  • RH Reality Check: "Roundup: Saving the Mother's Life Gets Nun Excommunicated."

1 comment:

Antonio Ono said...

“…how the Catholic Church thinks.”
You’re giving them too much credit.

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