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 –

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 –

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 –

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 –

Democrats abandon women on abortion, again  – MSMDC News

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

Crist should sign HB 1143 –

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 –

Faraway doctors give abortion pills by video –

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 –

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? –

What the birth control pill really did for women –

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 –

Victims of violence often abused economically – Fort Worth Business Press

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