Roundup: Saving the Mother’s Life Gets Nun Excommunicated

Robin Marty

In the case of mother versus fetus, picking the mother to live will get you excommunicated in Arizona.

It should be so simple.  A woman pregnant with an 11 week old fetus enters a hospital, where a team of medical experts decide that continuing the pregnancy is likely to kill her.  The medical team performs an abortion, and the woman lives.

For approving that action, a long-time nun has now been excommunicated, according to the Arizona Republic.

A Catholic nun and longtime administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix was reassigned in the wake of a decision to allow a pregnancy to be ended in order to save the life of a critically ill patient.

The decision also drew a sharp rebuke from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, who indicated the woman was “automatically excommunicated” because of the action.

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The Bishop sees no issue with the fact that any other option would have killed both mother and child, and stands by his ruling, the Washington Post reports.

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.

Yet not everyone in the church thinks the situation is so cut and dry.  Some church leaders, such as Father Tim, actually see value in NOT killing women.

Although I cannot disagree with the bishop’s theology and support the Church’s protection of the sacredness of all life, I suspect he needs “medical” treatment himself: a strong injection of reality.

Most important is a simple reality: If the mother of an 11-week-old fetus dies, the fetus will also die. It is too soon in life for the child to survive outside the womb no matter what the hospital might try. That means two deaths. Is there really a morally defensible reason for two innocents to die when one can live? It’s a hackneyed phrase, but what would Jesus have done?

It is long past the time to reconsider this. If all life deserves our protection and is sacred to our Creator, then a mother’s life is just as worthy as her child’s. How has this become lost in the battle over abortion?

Some people, in fact, are wondering if it is ever safe to allow a woman to seek medical help in Catholic hospitals, knowing that their own health and well-being will be put behind religious dogma.  From Huffington Post:

[I]f my life were at stake, or that of a woman I loved, I would not want to risk the chance that a woman less enlightened or flexible than Sister McBride was the ethicist ruling on my case in a medical emergency. So let me make this clear: At the present moment, as a physician, I would not feel comfortable with a woman I cared about seeking obstetric services at a Catholic hospital. In fact, I would not want a pregnant woman I cared about obtaining any medical treatment at a Catholic hospital. From this point forward, I will tell my pregnant patients, in all but the most emergent and high-risk circumstances, to instruct any ambulance that picks them up to avoid Catholic hospitals. That is tragic, because these institutions have a long and noble history of providing care to this nation’s needy and most desperate. Alas, thanks to men like Mr. Olmsted, obtaining obstetric care at a Catholic hospital has become a dangerous game of Russian roulette.

Seem like an overreaction?  Not really, once you read some of the comments on the Fox News version of the story.

Only God has the right to end a person’s life. Who is to say that the mom’s life is more precious than the baby’s? Maybe God wanted that unborn baby to live rather than the mom. It’s not our decision, it’s God’s. We have to put our lives in God’s hands and trust that He is Almighty and knows better than us.

And of course, one person claims, “We don’t know alot about this case, but I’m sure the Bishop knows more than we do.”

Not the doctors, not the patient, not the hospital staff.  It’s the Bishop who obviously knows best and should be trusted.

Mini Roundup: Speaking of “Bishops know best,” a Canadian Arch Bishop says women should never be allowed abortions after a rape because “There is already one victim, must there be another one?”  Political leaders tell him to stop trying to roll back 40 years of women’s rights.

May 14, 2010

Context Matters – Newsweek

Palin: I Understand Temptation to Have an Abortion – CBS News

Kenya: Debate over constitution referendum warms up – EnerPub

Small Anti-Abortion Advocacy Group Flexes Muscle In Midterm Elections – Kaiser Health News

Pro-Life Caucus on shaky ground – Congress.org

Groups protest forced ultrasounds – MyFox Tampa Bay

Crist hints at abortion ultrasound bill veto – Tampa Tribune

Sarah Palin slams feminist groups on abortion — and makes an interesting point – Washington Post

Bill expands abortion-consent regulations – Columbia Missourian

Palin hits campaign trail for anti-abortion group – CNN International

Mom to be Charged with Killing Unborn Infant while DUI – Lifesite

Abortion, Gay ‘Marriage’ among the Most ‘Insidious and Dangerous’ Challenges: Pope – Tips-Q GLBT News

Abortion legislation a political wildcard for Crist – Florida Times-Union

Powerful churches target Kenya’s Constitution over abortion – Christian Science Monitor

Mo. House passes abortion language expansion – KWMU

Sarah Palin on Her Favorite Subject: Abortion – TIME

Chris Selley’s Full Pundit: God will see you now, Mr. Harper – National Post

Missouri legislature approves abortion law – St. Louis Globe-Democrat

The Generation Gap in Abortion Support. – Tapped

Pentagon mandates ‘morning-after’ pill – BP News

LETTERS: Obama satire, abortion debate and more – Newsday

Palin says Obama would ban guns if he could – The Associated Press

The Pill – Western Front

Researchers Testing Birth Control Gel For Men – CBS 5

Contraception makes women slaves to sex – Pocono Record

Gates steers clear of HPV vaccine row – The Hindu

Family council calls for greater awareness in allocation of budgets – AngolaPress

ANGOLA: Putting a dent in the maternal death rate – IRINnews.org

May 15, 2010

Elena Kagan on Abortion – About – News & Issues

Abortion Should Guide Crist on Bill – The Ledger

Palin speaks to anti-abortion ‘mama grizzlies’ – Salt Lake Tribune

Nun at St. Joseph’s Hospital rebuked over abortion to save woman – Arizona Republic

Palin pushes abortion foes to form ‘conservative, feminist identity’ – Washington Post

OFL: Pro-Choice Movement “Die-In” at Minister Bev Oda’s Office – Marketwire

Laura Bush Opens Up About Disagreements with Husband on Gay Marriage, Abortion – CBS News

Nun rebuked over abortion to save woman – News10.net

Kagan’s abortion stance has both sides guessing – Los Angeles Times

Phoenix hospital nun rebuked for allowing abortion – Washington Post

At 50, birth control is still a bitter pill – Kansas City Star

Not a bitter Pill to swallow – Times of India

New York midwives lose right to deliver babies at home – The Guardian

Child health: The time for disregard is over – Jakarta Post

May 16, 2010

PM reignites abortion fight – Toronto Star

A closer look at Fla. abortion bill –  Tampabay.com

Democrats abandon women on abortion, again  – MSMDC News

Ethics measure, abortion limits, DWI overhaul passed in session – Joplin Globe

Crist should sign HB 1143 – MiamiHerald.com

Abortion: Don’t ask, don’t tell – Toronto Star

Catholic Hospital Punishes Administrator for Authorizing Abortion to Save … – True/Slant

Minorities split over history, goal of abortion – Canton Repository

Abortion foes capitalize on health care law – The Associated Press

New book suggests Tories pushing Christian agenda – CTV.ca

Faraway doctors give abortion pills by video – DesMoinesRegister.com

Sarah Palin Is Not a Feminist – Huffington Post

Nun Excommunicated For Allowing Abortion – MyFox Houston

Kyl, Feinstein Parry on Court Pick Kagan – CBS News

When Church laws allow for abortion – Daily Nation

PQ leader slams Cardinal Oullet’s abortion remarks – Montreal Gazette

Majority objects to leaving out abortion in G8 plan: poll – CTV.ca

Irish nun excommunicated after abortion to save mother decision – Irish Central

Budget deal, busy week await Okla. lawmakers – Tulsa World

Marois slams Cardinal Ouellet’s abortion remarks – Montreal Gazette

An Irish nun, a Catholic hospital, a dying mother, an abortion, and… – Irish Central

Liberals, Conservatives and Abortion – New York Times

Anti-Abortion Groups Upset with New Video Conference System – KCRG

After St. Joseph’s: Are Women Still Safe in Catholic Hospitals? – Huffington Post

The Pill: woman’s best friend? – Telegraph.co.uk

What the birth control pill really did for women – CTV.ca

Canada must help stop HIV spread in poor countries: expert – Vancouver Sun

Newborn HIV still ravaging Tanzania – The Citizen Daily

School peers help spread the word about preventing pregnancy, STDs – Herald & Review

Doula Month observed – Maryville Daily Times

May 17, 2010

Dropping the A-word – Toronto Star

Millions in Planned Parenthood funding on budget chopping block? – California Catholic Daily

Crist hints at abortion veto – Politico

HIV among gay, bisexual men at alarming highs in Asia – Reuters

False diagnosis of TB in HIV patients is fatal – Times of India

Cut out HIV discrimination call – BBC News

Delivering a better future for women and girls – Modern Ghana

INDONESIA: Gender inequality endangers women’s health – IRINnews.org

Victims of violence often abused economically – Fort Worth Business Press

News Law and Policy

California Lawmakers Take Action Against Rampant Wage Theft

Nicole Knight

A survey of people who work for low wages found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the "wage theft capital of the country."

Los Angeles has earned the distinction as the country’s wage theft capital, but a new California law is tackling the rampant problem of wage theft with new enforcement tools.

The law, SB 1342, signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gives city and county authorities subpoena powers when investigating wage violations. Until now, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was the primary agency charged with investigating wage theft cases.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) authored the legislation to “ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” Mendoza wrote in an Orange County Breeze op-ed.

Wage theft is the illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and minimum wages, denying lunch breaks, or forcing employees to work off the clock. A survey of people who work for low wages by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the “wage theft capital of the country.”

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Some 654,914 workers in L.A. County are subjected to at least one pay-based violation in any given week, researchers noted.

Most people who work low-wage jobs in L.A. were born outside the United States, and the majority are Latino (73.4 percent), Asian (17.9 percent), or Black (6.3 percent), researchers found.

Wage theft is not only illegal, it contributes to food insecurity and housing instability in low-income families, Mendoza noted.

“This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws,” Mendoza said.

A legislative analysis of SB 1342 cited research noting that minimum wage violations are rampant in industries such as garment manufacturing, domestic service, building services, and department stores, where wages are low.

The measure comes as states and cities are increasing minimum wages as lawmakers in Congress have refused to consider raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Brown in April signed a law lifting the statewide minimum pay rate to $15 per hour by 2022. More than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, have proposed or enacted $15 minimum wage rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Commentary Violence

When It Comes to Threats, Online or on the Campaign Trail, It’s Not Up to Women to ‘Suck It Up’

Lauren Rankin

Threats of violence toward women are commonplace on the internet for the same reason that they are increasingly common at Donald Trump rallies: They are effective at perpetuating violence against women as the norm.

Bizarre and inflammatory rhetoric is nothing new for this election. In fact, the Republican presidential candidate has made an entire campaign out of it. But during a rally last Tuesday, Donald Trump sunk to a new level. He lamented that if Hillary Clinton is elected president in November, there will be no way to stop her from making judicial nominations.

He said, “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

For a candidate marred by offensive comment after offensive comment, this language represents a new low, because, as many immediately explained, Trump appears to be making a veiled threat against Clinton, whether he had intended to or not.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called it a “death threat” and Dan Rather, former CBS Evening News host, called it a “direct threat of violence against a political rival.” Former President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis said it was “horrifying,” and even the author of an NRA-linked blog initially tweeted, “That was a threat of violence. As a real supporter of the #2A it’s appalling to me,” before deleting the tweet as the NRA expressed support for Trump.

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This kind of language is violent in nature on its face, but it is also gendered, following in a long line of misogynistic rhetoric this election season. Chants of “kill the bitch” and “hang the bitch” have become common at Trump rallies. These aren’t solely examples of bitter political sniping; these are overt calls for violence.

When women speak out or assert ourselves, we are challenging long-held cultural norms about women’s place and role in society. Offensively gendered language represents an attempt to maintain the status quo. We’ve seen this violent rhetoric online as well. That isn’t an accident. When individuals throw pejorative terms at those of who refuse to be silenced, they are attempting to render public spaces, online or on the campaign trail, unsafe for us.

There is no shortage of examples demonstrating how individuals who feel threatened by subtle power shifts happening in our society have pushed back against those changes. The interactions happening online, on various social media platforms, offer the most vivid examples of the ways in which people are doing their best to try to make public spaces as uncomfortable as possible for marginalized populations.

Social media offers the opportunity for those whose voices are routinely ignored to hold power in a new way. It is a slow but real shift from old, more traditional structures of privileging certain voices to a more egalitarian megaphone, of sorts.

For marginalized populations, particularly women of color and transgender women, social media can provide an opportunity to be seen and heard in ways that didn’t exist before. But it also means coming up against a wall of opposition, often represented in a mundane but omnipresent flow of hatred, abuse, and violent threats from misogynist trolls.

The internet has proven to be a hostile place for women. According to a report from the United Nations, almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence. As someone who has received threats of violence myself, I know what it feels like to have sharing your voice met with rage. There are women who experience this kind of violent rhetoric to an even greater degree than I could ever dream.

The list of women who have been inundated with threats of violence could go on for days. Women like Zerlina Maxwell, who was showered with rape threats after saying that we should teach men not to rape; Lindy West received hundreds upon hundreds of violent and threatening messages after she said that she didn’t think rape jokes were funny; Leslie Jones, star of Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live, was driven off of Twitter after a coordinated attack of racist, sexist, and violent language against her.

And yet, rarely are such threats taken seriously by the broader community, including by those able to do something about it.

Many people remain woefully unaware of how cruel and outright scary it can be for women online, particularly women with prolific digital profiles. Some simply refuse to see it as a real issue, declaring that “It’s just the internet!” and therefore not indicative of potential physical violence. Law enforcement doesn’t even have a solution, often unwilling to take these threats seriously, as Amanda Hess found out.

This kind of response is reflected in those who are trying to defend Donald Trump after the seemingly indefensible. Despite the overwhelming criticism from many, including some renowned Republicans, we have also seen some Trump supporters try to diminish or outright erase the violent aspect of this clearly threatening rhetoric. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani have both said that they assumed Trump meant get rid of her “by voting.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that it “sounds like just a joke gone bad.”

The violent nature of Donald Trump’s comments seem apparent to almost everyone who heard him. To try to dismiss it as a “joke” or insist that it is those who are offended that are wrong is itself harmful. This is textbook gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse in which a victim’s reality is eroded by telling them that what they experienced isn’t true.

But gaslighting has played a major role in Donald Trump’s campaign, with some of his supporters insisting that it is his critics who are overreacting—that it is a culture of political correctness, rather than his inflammatory and oppressive rhetoric, that is the real problem.

This is exactly what women experience online nearly every day, and we are essentially told to just suck it up, that it’s just the internet, that it’s not real. But tell that to Jessica Valenti, who received a death and rape threat against her 5-year-old daughter. Tell that to Anita Sarkeesian, who had to cancel a speech at Utah State after receiving a death threat against her and the entire school. Tell that to Brianna Wu, a game developer who had to flee her home after death threats. Tell that to Hillary Clinton, who is trying to make history as the first woman president, only to have her life threatened by citizens, campaign advisers, and now through a dog whistle spoken by the Republican presidential candidate himself.

Threats of violence toward women are commonplace on the internet for the same reason that they are increasingly common at Donald Trump’s rallies: They are effective at perpetuating violence against women as the norm.

Language matters. When that language is cruel, aggressive, or outright violent, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it doesn’t come without consequences. There is a reason that it is culturally unacceptable to say certain words like “cunt” and other derogatory terms; they have a history of harm and oppression, and they are often directly tied to acts of violence. When someone tweets a woman “I hope your boyfriend beats you,” it isn’t just a trolling comment; it reflects the fact that in the United States, more women are killed by intimate partners than by any other perpetrator, that three or more women die every day from intimate partner violence. When Donald Trump not only refuses to decry calls of violence and hate speech at his rallies but in fact comes across as threatening his female opponent, it isn’t just an inflammatory gaffe; it reflects the fact that one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence.

Threats of violence have no place in presidential campaigns, but they also have no place online, either. Until we commit ourselves to rooting out violent language against women and to making public spaces safer and more accommodating for women and all marginalized people, Trump’s comments are just par for the course.

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