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 Economic Justice

Colorado Voters Could Get a Chance to Boost the State’s Minimum Wage

Jason Salzman

A campaign fact sheet cited an April survey showing that 59 percent of the 2,400 U.S. small businesses polled favor raising the minimum wage, and that about 40 percent of those polled already pay entry-level employees "far above" the required minimum wage in their location.

Colorado’s minimum wage would increase from $8.31 to $12 by 2020 if Colorado voters approve a ballot initiative that could be headed to the November ballot.

Patty Kupfer, campaign manager for Colorado Families for a Fair Wage told reporters Monday that Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, a coalition of groups, submitted more than 200,000 signatures to the Colorado secretary of state, more than double the number required to make the ballot.

Hundreds of volunteers and dozens of organizations collected signatures, Kupfer said.

“Raising the minimum wage is fair and it’s smart,” Kupfer said. “It’s fair because people working full time should earn enough to support their families. It’s smart because when working people have more money in their pockets, they spend it here in Colorado, boosting our economy and helping our community thrive.”

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Speaking at the news conference staged in front of stacked boxes of petitions, Marrisa Guerrero, identified as a certified nursing assistant, said she works seven days a week and still relies on subsidized housing.

“Making $300 a week is not enough to pay rent and buy groceries for a family like mine,” said Guerrero, adding that she’d “really like” to see an increase in the minimum immediately, but “2020 would work wonders.”

After 2020, the state’s minimum wage would be adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases under the initiative.

Tyler Sandberg, a spokesperson for Keep Colorado Working, an organization opposing the initiative, appeared at the news conference and told reporters that he was “especially” worried about the initiative’s impact on small businesses.

“The big corporations, the wealthy areas of Denver and Boulder, might be able to afford [it], but small businesses, rural and poor communities, cannot afford this,” Sandberg told reporters. “So you are going to put people out of work with this. You’re going to harm the same people you’re trying to help.”

“It’s one size that doesn’t fit all. It’s the same for a small business as it is for Pepsi Cola,” said Sandberg, whose organization includes the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, and the National Association of Independent Business.

Asked by Rewire to respond to Sandberg’s argument against a higher wage, Kupfer said, “Research shows small businesses support increasing the minimum wage. The truth is, when workers make more, that means more customers in local Colorado businesses. Both in rural and urban parts of the state, when working people do well, our communities thrive.”

A campaign fact sheet cited an April survey showing that 59 percent of the 2,400 U.S. small businesses polled favor raising the minimum wage, and that about 40 percent of those polled already pay entry-level employees “far above” the required minimum wage in their location.

“In my company, we have customer service representatives being paid $15 per hour,” Yoav Lurie, founder of Simple Energy, told reporters at the news conference. “While others might choose to pay customer service reps minimum wage, we have found that higher pay leads to improved performance and better retention and better customer satisfaction.”

Workers who rely on tips would see their minimum hourly wage increase by about 70 percent, from $5.29 to $8.98, while other workers would get a 44 percent increase by 2020. The initiative states that “no more than $3.02 in tip income may be used to offset the minimum wage of employees who regularly receive tips.”

Colorado passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 that bumped the minimum wage to $6.85. It’s been raised according to inflation since then.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25 and has not been increased since 2009.

Colorado’s Republican legislators killed legislation this year to allow cities to raise the minimum wage.

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”