Do you know what you get for saving a woman's life? You get excommunicated from the Catholic church:
That member of the ethics committee is Sister Margaret McBride, R.S.M. According to Bishop Thomas Olmsted:
The head of the Catholic church in Phoenix has stripped Arizona's largest hospital of its Catholic affiliation after he ruled that a decision to save the life of a mother by terminating her 11-week pregnancy was morally wrong.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted announced yesterday that St Joseph's hospital can no longer be considered to be Catholic. The ruling breaks a relationship that stretches back to the hospital's founding by Catholic nuns 115 years ago.
He has also excommunicated the member of the hospital's ethics committee that permitted the abortion to go ahead.
So the hospital is no longer Catholic and poor Sister Margaret McBride is excommunicated. And this was because an abortion was performed in the hospital. According to bishop Olmsted (who of course is now a medical expert), the pregnancy was going just fine and all the woman needed was treatment for her pulmonary hypertension.
Then, earlier this year, it was brought to my attention that an abortion had taken place at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. When I met with officials of the hospital to learn more of the details of what had occurred, it became clear that, in the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld; but that the baby was directly killed, which is a clear violation of ERD #45. It also was clear that the exceptional cases, mentioned in ERD #47, were not met, that is, that there was not a cancerous uterus or other grave malady that might justify an indirect and unintended termination of the life of the baby to treat the grave illness. In this case, the baby was healthy and there were no problems with the pregnancy; rather, the mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph's medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed. This is contrary to the teaching of the Church (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, #62).
It was thus my duty to declare to the person responsible for this tragic decision that allowed an abortion at St. Joseph's, Sister Margaret McBride, R.S.M., that she had incurred an excommunication by her formal consent to the direct taking of the life of this baby. I did this in a confidential manner, hoping to spare her public embarrassment.
Hmm. Should the hospital have let both the woman and the fetus die? I guess that would have been better.
The case concerned an unidentified woman in her 20s, who had a history of abnormally high blood pressure that was under control before she became pregnant. But doctors were concerned on learning of the pregnancy about the extra burden that would be placed on her heart, and they monitored her closely.
Tests showed that in the early stages of pregnancy her condition deteriorated rapidly and that before long her pulmonary hypertension – which can impair the working of the heart and lungs – had begun to seriously threaten her life. Doctors informed her that the risk of death was close to 100% if she continued with the pregnancy.
Consultations were then held with the patient, her family, her doctors and the hospital's ethics team, and the decision to go ahead with an abortion was taken in order to save the mother's life.
But clearly bishop Olmsted felt that way, and so did the US bishops' Committee on Doctrine:
Thus, pregnant women should be allowed to die, even if the fetus will obviously die inside her, too. Such charming charitable folk those bishops are! And you should read some of the Catholic mouthpieces! They are all totally and completely of the opinion that the wench should die.
"No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself and proclaimed by the church," the committee said.
I did so well until that last sentence, writing calmly and boringly while my blood ran cold. Women really are not worth much to all these religious patriarchs, and the sooner we accept that the quicker we can create some real change.
Oh. I know someone who desperately needs a kidney transplant, desperately. I'm sure that bishop Olmsted won't mind handing one over. It won't even kill him.
PS. Many years ago I read a book about a pregnant woman who was allowed to die on these grounds. The book was fiction, and I remember thinking how glad I was that no such thing could actually happen in reality.