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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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169 Responses

  1. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit May 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm |

    But if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy that threatens to burst her fallopian tube — a pregnancy that will never result in a baby — you cannot, under Catholic doctrine, simply terminate the pregnancy.

    I’ve read and reread the passage in question, and I don’t see how you’re extrapolating this.

  2. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe May 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm |

    Oh, how I wish that this asshole, whoever he or she is (I couldn’t bring myself to follow the link), develops some scary, painful, life-threatening medical condition and gets met with a mouthful of mush about God’s will.

    OK, I don’t really wish that. It’s possible for schadenfreude to go too far. But this kind of mealymouthed fatalism, almost invariably applied to someone else’s pain, is just infuriating.

  3. Faith
    Faith May 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm |

    “Oh, how I wish that this asshole, whoever he or she is”

    The asshole is a she…

  4. Faith
    Faith May 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm |

    “But your view that heaven is awesome and death should be welcomed as the attainment of our life-long goal? Not my view!”

    I just don’t get how anyone can follow any deity that would rather you die than save yourself. Why anyone would want to bow down and submit themselves to someone that cruel and selfish, I have no idea. If god is their father, he is a lousy one.

  5. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward May 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm |

    Well said. I think it is time to introduce our fellow Catholics to St. Gianna Molla. She died rather than abort her baby. That is the example to follow.

    “Pro-life” – the quintessential false advertising of the 20th Century. These misogynists are anti-abortion, even when that means being pro-death.

  6. libdevil
    libdevil May 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm |

    So, basically, their God is a giant asshole who causes horrible things to happen to us and gets really mad when we don’t like it, but he loves us unconditionally and because he loves us we should just take whatever he dishes out. God envisioned as domestic abuser. Got it.

  7. Agnes
    Agnes May 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm |

    I read this article earlier and it made me so angry because of its blatant hypocrisy. This line in particular:

    ‘Can we accept and wholly trust that God “has a plan” for each of us, if only we do not impede his access into our lives? We are meant never to forestall God’s possibilities.’

    Like you pointed out, the logical outcome of this belief is that ALL sick people should deny ALL medical intervention. Presumably, if a baby is born prematurely, the logical Catholic position would be that we shouldn’t give that baby any medical aid, even if it would (‘nearly’) certainly die without it… but I don’t see that happening. It’s only when it’s a woman (who got herself into this mess by having sex, the slut! – this seems to be the narrative beneath this story) that anyone suggests we shouldn’t intervene in ‘God’s plan’.

  8. Agnes
    Agnes May 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm |

    I should qualify that by ‘logical Catholic position’ I mean the position of Catholics who sympathise with the beliefs that the author of the article outlines. I know many Catholics who don’t have such warped views.

  9. Lance
    Lance May 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm |

    Take it a step further: Clearly, they should only heal atheists, who need time to come to the light. People who are going to heaven anyway don’t need medicine; actually, they’re better off without it given the non-trivial risk that they’ll lapse later in life.

  10. groggette
    groggette May 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm |

    Ah yes, the mother was supposed to die, and by interfering we ruined God’s plan.

    … so why do we have medical care at all?

    yeah that was exactly my thought while reading this shit.
    Do these holier-than-thou people skip over the part in the New Testament where Jesus healed people? and on the sabbath no less! BLASPHEMER!!

  11. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm |

    Again, the Church is just being consistent with its belief that fetuses are people. If you assume that they are, then the excommunication was the right move. The Church did a particularly bad job of justifying it, though. You can assume that there is a 100% chance that the mother and fetus will both die unless you directly kill the fetus. You still can’t kill the fetus, by the assumption that fetuses are people. No religious “this is what God planned” explanation is necessary.

  12. DAS
    DAS May 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm |

    Again, the Church is just being consistent with its belief that fetuses are people. – White

    Not exactly.

    This —

    You can assume that there is a 100% chance that the mother and fetus will both die unless you directly kill the fetus. You still can’t kill the fetus, by the assumption that fetuses are people.

    is not a valid conclusion from the premise. There are many “acceptable” reasons to kill another person, self-defense being one of them. If a person hooked himself up to you and survived based on your bodily fluids, you would have a legal right to unhook that person. Heck, the government can’t even compel you to donate organs (heck, even making that an “opt out” rather than “opt in” decision is controversial). So how can the law compel you to keep a fetus, living entirely within your body, alive?

    OTOH, the Catholic Church’s position is consistent if you accept that killing a fetus is murder: if killing a fetus is murder, then you can’t kill a fetus just because cancer is threatening your life — if someone held a gun to your head and said “shoot your kid or I’ll blow you to smithereens” (and the guy has your kid between you and he so the only way to disable him would involve killing your kid) many systems of morality would certainly say it would still be murder to kill your kid in that situation (any lawyers out there? what would our secular law say about it?) — even if you know that if you don’t kill your kid, the madman could kill you then kill your kid.

    To me, however, this just points out the ridiculousness of considering abortion as murder: fortunately madmen who make threats like that above are rare. Unfortunately, cases where it is the mother’s life (or health) or continuing the pregnancy are all too common.

  13. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm |

    That would be an indirect killing, so your hypothetical is already disanalogous to the situation. But I think you could do that, since the death is indirect.

  14. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead May 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm |

    Again, the Church is just being consistent with its belief that fetuses are people. If you assume that they are, then the excommunication was the right move.

    Oh, bullshit.

    Soldiers are people and they get killed by other soldiers in wars. Bombs are dropped on innocents by Generals, on orders from presidents and the Pentagon. Criminals get executed by state employees. Cops kill people all the time. Etc etc etc, I could go on and on.

    Lots of people are killed and the killers are NOT EXCOMMUNICATED for it. ONLY PREGNANT WOMEN GET THIS TREATMENT.

  15. NAB
    NAB May 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm |

    Lots of people are killed and the killers are NOT EXCOMMUNICATED for it. ONLY PREGNANT WOMEN GET THIS TREATMENT.

    My thoughts exactly. And as for the killing your kid with a gun to your head scenario goes, I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure that would count as severe duress and you’d get off. Nowhere in the law is it stated that one must die to protect another, even if it’s your own kid.

  16. cass_m
    cass_m May 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm |

    With this kind of justification, I agree with the people who ask why Catholic hospitals even exist. Surely any illness is God’s will.

  17. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm |

    Church doctrine = assume that a fetus is a person and follow this to its logical conclusion.

    You’re correct though, the Church would not allow the removal of the fetus itself. You couldn’t remove the entire uterus in this situation, either, although you could when the uterus is cancerous and the fetus won’t reach viability before the mother’s death. If the fetus itself is causing the problem, you can’t save the mother’s life by means of letting the fetus die of exposure. This is because doing so would amount to letting the fetus die of exposure as a means of saving the mother’s life. When you remove the cancerous uterus of a pregnant woman, the woman’s life was not saved by means of expelling the fetus and leaving him to die of exposure, it was saved by means of removing the cancerous uterus, and the fetus’ death was incidental to that. There is a morally relevant difference between direct and indirect killing.

  18. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm |

    Again, the Church is just being consistent with its belief that fetuses are people and that women are not.

    There. Fixed it for ya.

    .

  19. DAS
    DAS May 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm |

    This is because doing so would amount to letting the fetus die of exposure as a means of saving the mother’s life

    Of course, this is peculiar to Catholic morality. And exposure is an interesting choice of words here. In the Talmud (BM 62a) there is a debate between Ben Peturah and R. Akiba as to what is the correct thing to do if two men are lost in a desert and one of the men has only enough water in his canteen to sustain himself. Ben Peturah says both men should share the water even if they both die, whereas R. Akiba (citing the Torah and hence winning the debate) says that the man with the canteen should not share the water, after all the Torah says “and your brother shall live with you” (Lev. 25:36) and not “you two shall both die”.

    Yes, the Bible tells us to “choose life” (etc.) but not (in general) at a cost of our own life. Indeed, as God’s creations we each have an obligation to sustain ourselves. For a woman to let herself die or become permanently injured for the sake of a fetus is simply immoral according to certain interpretations of Mosaic law.

  20. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers May 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm |

    Again, the Church is just being consistent with its belief that fetuses are people. If you assume that they are, then the excommunication was the right move. The Church did a particularly bad job of justifying it, though. You can assume that there is a 100% chance that the mother and fetus will both die unless you directly kill the fetus. You still can’t kill the fetus, by the assumption that fetuses are people.

    You can kill people who are killing you, even if they are doing so innocently, if there is no other way to ensure your own survival.

    Let’s say that you are Wolverine, and the Hulk is giving you a big hug. As we know, the Hulk is not very bright. Wolverine’s adamantium bones and healing factor usually enable him to survive most things, but the Hulk is hugging him so hard that his adamantium bones are being dislocated from each other and he is being squished into a string, essentially. Wolverine will die if he can’t get the Hulk to stop hugging him, but the Hulk is too dumb to realize the harm he is doing, and Wolverine can’t talk to the Hulk because the Hulk has just crushed his lungs. Wolverine is not strong enough to fight the Hulk, but his hand is positioned in front of Hulk’s heart, so if he extends his claws, the Hulk will be stabbed to death and release him, at which point Wolverine will be able to heal. If he does not extend his claws, Wolverine will die. Is Wolverine justified in killing the Hulk?

    Comic book writers and readers would probably say “yes”, under that circumstance Wolverine is justified in killing the Hulk. Even though the Hulk does not *mean* to cause harm, he is killing Wolverine, and the only way to stop him from killing Wolverine is to kill him. In that case, Wolverine is justified in killing the Hulk.

    There might be some Hulk fans who would argue that this is wrong because the Hulk is innocent and doesn’t realize the harm he’s doing, whereas Wolverine knows that he would be committing murder. But wait! What if there’s a collar around Hulk’s neck with high explosives attached to it that is keyed to Wolverine’s heart beat, so as soon as Wolverine dies, the Hulk dies as well? And the Hulk doesn’t know this, but Wolverine does? So the choices are not “Wolverine dies, Hulk lives or Hulk dies, Wolverine lives” but “Wolverine dies, Hulk dies” or “Hulk dies, Wolverine lives”? So no matter what happens, the Hulk will die? At that point *no* one would argue that Wolverine does not have the right to kill the Hulk.

    Except, apparently, the Catholic Church.

    I use arguments drawn from things like comic books and science fiction/fantasy because there *is* no way to replicate the situation in the real world while removing attributes like “mother had sex and caused baby to exist” or “ooh, cute wittle baby” or “women are sluts” from the mindset of the people contemplating the question. So while my Wolverine and Hulk example is undoubtedly stupid, it does demonstrate that we would not consider innocence a barrier to killing another human being in self defense if there was no other way to stop them from killing you. The fact that the baby does not know or understand that it is killing you and does not intend to do so doesn’t stop it from killing you, and doesn’t remove your moral justification for self defense. If it will die when you die, and so there is *no* way for it to live, then your justification is even stronger.

    So *even* if you believe a fetus is a person, this is a cut and dried, open and shut case. You have the right to kill it to save your life. The Catholic Church’s argument really does boil down to “pray for a miracle”, but that puts them out in the realm of the fringes like the Christian Scientists.

  21. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead May 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm |

    Fact: Timothy McVeigh was given the Eucharist right before he got the needle.

    I rest my case.

  22. Another Laurie
    Another Laurie May 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm |

    My local paper recently ran a story about a secular hospital that ran an ad pointing out that the local Catholic hospital is not a good choice for pregnant women because their care would be subject to Catholic ethics. There was a hue and cry by the Catholics that this ad was somehow inappropriate and below-the-belt, but I thought it was a great public service to let women know that your local friendly Catholic hospital does not have your best interests at heart. I was heartened by the number of women who wrote in the comments section that they would not dream of delivering their babies at the Catholic hospital. A lot of pregnant women understand quite well that the Catholic hospital would throw them under the bus in a medical emergency.

  23. Susa
    Susa May 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm |

    Lots of people are killed and the killers are NOT EXCOMMUNICATED for it. ONLY PREGNANT WOMEN GET THIS TREATMENT.

    Actually, it’s pregnant women and their doctors.

  24. Emily WK
    Emily WK May 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm |

    Another Laurie: You know what’s even scarier? Women who are in the earliest weeks of pregnancy who don’t know they’re pregnant and end up in a Catholic hospital. I shudder to think.

  25. Another Laurie
    Another Laurie May 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm |

    There are a couple of paradoxical aspects to the Catholic position on this:

    1) In canonizing St. Gianna Molla, they seem to recognize that it is, in fact, extraordinary to choose one’s own death rather than abortion. They declare such an action as worthy of sainthood. Yet they would require that ALL women act as saints and martyrs if confronted with this situation. It is inhumane to require women to act in a way that is recognized, even by the Catholic Church, as so difficult that it is beyond the bounds of normal human capacity.

    2) By taking away choice from women in this situation, they rob even the most self-sacrificing saint of a woman the dignity of her choice. If the woman was prevented from getting an abortion, she is not a heroine or a martyr when she dies. She did not choose her fate. The woman is reduced to a brood mare, who simply dies with no say in the matter at all.

  26. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm |

    Because the killing of the twin is indirect, whereas it is direct in the excommunication situation. This raises some very difficult questions about what constitutes a direct and indirect killing. Obviously, leaving a baby to die of exposure is a direct killing, even though no one physically killed the baby. The same would obviously hold true of letting a fetus die of exposure. This is the question I think you’re asking: if leaving a fetus to die of exposure constitutes a direct killing, why doesn’t removing a dependent conjoined twin constitute a direct killing?

    When you deprive a fetus of gestation, you’re depriving him of a basic human necessity. All human beings need to be gestated, so we would say that leaving a fetus/baby to die of exposure is intrinsically oriented towards that fetus/baby’s death. Since expelling the fetus from the womb is the means by which the woman’s life is saved, the means is intrinsically oriented towards the fetus’ death and therefore impermissible. When you remove a cancerous uterus, the means is “removing a cancerous womb,” not “expelling the fetus.”

    The difference between actions that are intrinsically oriented towards someone’s death and actions that are not intrinsically oriented towards someone’s death can be illustrated rather easily. Suppose you refuse to eat. Not eating is intrinsically oriented towards your death, because all human beings need to eat; food is a basic human necessity. Suppose you refuse heart surgery. Refusing heart surgery is not intrinsically oriented towards your death, because it is not a basic human necessity.

    When you remove a dependent conjoined twin, that removal is not intrinsically oriented towards his death, because staying alive by means of using someone else’s organs is not a basic human necessity. Since this is not a basic human necessity, depriving the dependent conjoined twin of the use of his twin’s body is not intrinsically oriented towards his death.

  27. Another Laurie
    Another Laurie May 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm |

    Emily WK,

    Yep. I used to go to my local Catholic hospital for routine blood work and such. Now my basic philosophy to avoid the Catholic hospital at all costs!

  28. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm |

    But relying on consistency above all else is morally and intellectually infantile.

    Then what should we depend on? We have a much stronger emotional attachment to the woman than we do towards an 11-week fetus, so a lot of people feel that we should kill the fetus (who we don’t have much of an emotional attachment to) in order to save the woman (who we do have a full emotional attachment to). Performing the abortion in this situation would amount to killing the person we don’t care about to save the one that we do, and that is utterly impermissible. You don’t need to be Catholic to see this.

  29. Emily WK
    Emily WK May 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm |

    The metaphors are never going to work, White. There is no relationship like that between a fetus and the woman who is gestating it.

    You should consider accepting that nobody else here is going to agree with you that this ruling makes sense, or that the Catholic doctorine is anything but a codification of the hatred of women.

  30. Solara
    Solara May 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm |

    The problem with the logic in your above example, White, is that there is not a choice between one living and one dying. The fact is, if the mother dies, so does the fetus and any children she may have in the future. So the choice is not between killing a person we know and one we don’t – it is between killing one fetus or killing a person, the fetus, and any potential other life from the mother.

    What the Catholic church has done has now completely contradicted their own Directive 47, which states:
    “Operations, treatments and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”

    Essentially, the Catholic church has decided they do not care about pregnant mothers – it’s their fault, after all, for having sex when a child could be dangerous to them – and instead want to regulate morality through threatening women’s lives. Where is the love of God in that?

  31. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm |

    White — you aren’t leaving a fetus to die of exposure the way that a baby dies of exposure. If you remove an 11-week-old fetus from the woman’s body, it dies not of exposure but because its survival was dependent on its physical attachment to the woman — it doesn’t have the ability to breath or maintain organ function without that attachment. Which is why exposure is not the proper comparison; the conjoined twin issue is a lot closer.

    I would disagree here. When the fetus is detached from the woman early, he is being deprived of a basic human necessity, and so the early detachment qua early detachment is intrinsically oriented towards the fetus’ death.

    What if the organs that the twin is using aren’t necessarily “someone else’s”? What if there’s only one heart and the twins are sharing it?

    Neither of the twins would be a dependent twin, then. Since they both “own” the heart, you couldn’t deprive either of them of it.

    Well, the fetus has been gestated. He hasn’t been gestated fully, but all humans also need to be removed from gestation at some point. I realize it’s a matter of when that happens, but my point is that you are trying to break this down into moral absolutes that don’t really exist and are not easily applied in real life.

    He hasn’t been gestated to the point where he could have any chance at all of surviving outside the womb.

    Not for most humans, but for that particular human it is. And while gestation is, at some point, a basic human necessity, it is not a human necessity forever. So one could make the argument that, for most people, it is not a necessity to be currently gestating, just like it’s not a necessity to be physically dependent on someone else’s organs for survival.

    It is at that point in the individual’s development. When I said “not all humans need X,” I was trying to point out that the need for X arose from a defect, not a normal condition. Depriving someone of something that everyone needs to survive at some point in their development is intrinsically oriented towards that person’s death. Depriving someone of something they only need by virtue of an extraordinary (i.e. unnatural) condition is not intrinsically oriented towards their death.

    Why are fetuses so special? Why do they get to use someone else’s organs for their survival, when most of us do not?

    http://journal.equip.org/articles/suffer-the-violinist-why-the-pro-abortion-argument-from-bodily-autonomy-fails

    Suppose your baby breastfeeds or starves. There’s nothing else you can feed his besides your breast milk. Do you see the difference between refusing to breastfeed in this situation, and refusing to donate blood to your dying child when you’re the only donor available?

  32. Rob F
    Rob F May 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm |

    Arguing that there is always and unconditionally a morally relevant distinction between “directly” and “indirectly” killing someone leads to absurdities. Consider:

    There is a kind of poisonous snake oil that, if you drink it, has a 100% chance of killing you one hour later. Two gravediggers are selling this. They are doing so so that more people will die, giving them more work digging graves. Two merchants are also selling that same snake oil. They are doing so so that they will get additional funds to help pay of their mortgages. They don’t really care if you die after drinking the snake oil.

    Clearly, in the thought experiment above, the gravediggers are directly killing others. However, the merchants are indirectly killing others; they are not intending for others to die; rather those deaths are a side-effect or incidental to the merchants getting funds to pay off their mortgage faster. Yet, it seems unreasonable to suppose that there is a morally relevant distinction between the merchants and the gravediggers, and I’m sure almost everyone would agree.

    Hence, even if we grant for the sake of argument that there is a morally relevant distinction between “directly” and “indirectly” killing someone in some circumstances, it does not follow that that same distinction exists in all circumstances. Hence, one cannot use the distinction between “directly” and “indirectly” killing someone to argue that abortion was impermissible or wrong in the circumstances described in this post/thread, because it has not yet been shown that that distinction applies in these circumstances.

  33. mo
    mo May 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm |

    Should *I* need to go to the nearest medical facility for life-saving care, I expect that the healthcare providers will do whatever is medically necessary to save MY life. Hence why I will avoid a Catholic hospital whenever possible. I expect the best possible MEDICAL care at the facility, not the imposition of someone else’s religious beliefs.

    I would highly recommend that everyone have advanced healthcare directives in place if this subject matters to you. (powers of attorney, living wills, etc.) Put in there a paragraph explicitly stating that whenever possible, you wish to be transferred to a non-Catholic facility. (say facility, that covers more than hospitals) They may have to take you to one in an emergency situation, but having it sure couldn’t hurt. Keep one in your wallet or purse, and give your doctor/clinic one for your records.

  34. Thomas
    Thomas May 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    I would like to see state medical boards require as an ethical duty that doctors not be employed by any person or organization that requires them to refuse to provide life-saving care to any patient for reasons of ideology. Then, either the Catholic hospitals would need a good deal of doctrinal freedom to comply, or it would be unethical for any doctor to work for them and they would have to close. I would prefer that their role in the health care system be filled by the government, anyway.

  35. Corbin
    Corbin May 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm |

    I used to be Catholic. I served in Iraq, I killed people. It bothered me, so when I came home I went to confession to confess to the sin of killing another human. I asked for a penance. I was told that since I had done ntohing wrong, and the killing was justified, I would not be given a penance, or absolution, since there was no sin. I did not feel that this was the case. I killed someone for no reason other than to preserve my own life. Why wasn’t I excommunicated? I would think my case was far more clear-cut than that of this poor woman. Don’t say the catholic church is consistant. They are not.

  36. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm |

    Ah, White is Austin Nedved.

    When you remove a dependent conjoined twin, that removal is not intrinsically oriented towards his death, because staying alive by means of using someone else’s organs is not a basic human necessity.

    Exactly. Now why don’t you apply this to the situation?

  37. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm |

    Also, it’s funny how God’s Plan never seems to ensure that the abortion will be unsuccessful, isn’t it?

  38. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 3:14 pm |

    Exactly. Now why don’t you apply this to the situation?

    I meant to say “staying alive by means of using someone else’s organs while you are a conjoined twin is not a basic human necessity.” Sometimes, using someone else’s organs to stay alive is a basic human necessity, as I showed in the breastfeeding example above.

  39. DAS
    DAS May 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm |

    Suppose your baby breastfeeds or starves. There’s nothing else you can feed his besides your breast milk. Do you see the difference between refusing to breastfeed in this situation, and refusing to donate blood to your dying child when you’re the only donor available? – White

    If the mother has a condition such that breast-feeding would kill or mame her or if the parent has a condition that precludes donating blood, only then do these situations become analogous to the case of an abortion where the woman’s life or health is in danger.

    Of course pro-choicers like myself would argue that abortion should be legal even if a woman’s life or health is not in danger. Again — any lawyers out there? Does the state have the power to compel women to breastfeed or parents to donate blood or organs? If not, then how can the law require women maintain rather than terminate pregnancies?

    BTW — the argument that fetuses are persons, which even still does not require abortion to be illegal, itself is problematic. At the very least, we don’t — pro-life, pro-choice, anyone except those who bury miscarriages — treat fetuses as people. And we certainly don’t treat embryos as people. What is the miscarriage rate? Any cause of that many deaths would certainly have a marathon, etc., trying to end it … where is the campaign to fund research into preventing miscarriages?

    When women miscarry should we investigate this as a death of a person? If a person continuously, albeit accidently kills someone the same way (e.g. an epileptic whose epilepsy can’t be treated, continues to drive with fatal results) society would eventually declare that person to be criminally negligent. If a woman repeatedly miscarries, is she criminally negligent if she gets pregnant?

    Actually treating fetuses (and even more so embryos) as people would lead to a very frightening world indeed. So most people, even those who are pro-life, don’t actually really consider fetuses (and certainly not embryos) as people. And even if fetuses are people, since when do people have a right to directly live off of the bodily fluids of other people. The “violinist argument” still stands … I fail to see the flaw in it.

  40. White
    White May 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm |

    Except that IF you are a conjoined twin, staying alive by means of using someone else’s organs IS a necessity.

    If you are a conjoined twin, staying alive by means of using your twin’s organs is a necessity. However, it is not a basic human necessity in the sense that surgery is not a basic human necessity, so depriving the twin of it is not intrinsically oriented towards his death, it is accidentally oriented towards his death. This is similar to how refusing to eat is intrinsically oriented towards your death, whereas refusing medical treatment is accidentally oriented towards your death. So starving someone to death constitutes directly killing them, whereas depriving a conjoined twin of the use of his twin’s organs constitutes an indirect killing.

    But that does not necessarily trump the right of the human who is the holder of those organs to remove you. Especially if your presence is killing them.

    That’s not necessarily true. Why didn’t you answer my question about refusing to breastfeed vs. refusing to donate blood?

  41. Rose
    Rose May 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm |

    The whole Catholic Church moot point aside, can I make the point that I think the OP’s position on salpingotomy (removal of part of the tube) versus salpingectomy (removal of the whole tube) is incorrect. The default position, as far as I’m aware, is to go for salpingectomy because the cause of the ectopic (presumed partial tubal occlusion) is removed and reduces the risk of future ectopics. Salpingotomy, which causes disruption to the tube is -at least theoretically, because I haven’t done a literature search- going to increase your chances of a further ectopic.

    And for those who are going to mention methotrexate at this point: counselling women who are eligible for and choose this option on the fact that their risk of a further ectopic in future conceptions is not reduced by methotrexate treatment, is an important part of the process.

    I do not agree with the Catholic church on its position on abortion, I just think that the OP has misunderstood aspects of the surgical management of ectopic pregnancy.

  42. chad
    chad May 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm |

    I understand the appeal of “double effect” style reasoning in some cases, but this doesn’t seem like a correct application of it. I mean, the tube is removed in the relevant procedure *because it contains a developing fetus*, right? Why else would you remove it? And, if you remove a tube because it contains a developing fetus, then I claim you intended to remove the fetus. Compare: can you remove my luggage from the trunk of the car in order to get its contents into the house *without* intending to remove the contents of the luggage from the trunk? Seems not.

  43. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 21, 2010 at 3:46 pm |

    Yeah, this is definitely the troll formerly known as Austin Nedved. The shoddy breastfeeding analogy, the declaration that things are so just because he says so – any Pandagonistas want to weigh in?

    I’ll let other people answer his so-called arguments if they want – I did it months ago and it doesn’t seem to have helped, so I won’t bother.

  44. Crash
    Crash May 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm |

    Galileo once said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    I certainly don’t expect people like Elizabeth Scalia to view the words of a long-dead man who’s excommunication was lifted less than 20 years ago, though. Yes, that really is her last name. Do you suppose she is any relation to Justice Scalia?

  45. Crash
    Crash May 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm |

    My bad, “positively” should follow “ago.” Unleash the grammar hounds.

  46. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey May 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm |

    Directive 47 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services says:

    “Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”

    So…to sum up, rational Catholics think you should at least be able to save your own life. Oh, and Sister McBride acted in good faith according to church directives and should not have been excommunicated.

  47. Solara
    Solara May 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm |

    No one can force a consenting adult to undergo medical treatment. Period. You can’t force someone in their right mind to give blood if they don’t want to, you can’t force them to donate organs. That means that parents cannot be compelled to donate blood or organs to their children.

  48. Rose
    Rose May 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm |

    My point was that you said salpingotomy was preferable, and I’m not sure that the evidence backs that up.

    The RCOG, who did a meta-review of the few small trials done on the subject, is blandly indifferent where the woman in question has a healthy contralateral tube; although they do find in favour where the contralateral tube is diseased. There is a Cochrane review from 2007, but this looks only at -otomy, and I wonder if this is a reflection that -otomy is the default option in the US. Whenever the topic arises in local discussion, -ectomy tends to be favoured for the theoretical risks I’ve already mentioned.

  49. Karen
    Karen May 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm |

    Just in case you all thought the Anchoress article was the worst possible, here is Lydia McGrew stating that it is never ethical to save a woman’s life, even in the most extreme circumstances, by an abortion.

    Words cannot express how much I loathe these people.

  50. David
    David May 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm |

    Great write-up with excellent arguments. Unfortunately, as seen in this comments page and elsewhere, you can’t reason someone out of a belief that reason didn’t bring them to in the first place.

    PS This is my first time on the actual site since I read the blog in google reader. The little girl with the shotgun is fucking awesome.

  51. Tree
    Tree May 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm |

    So, basically, their God is a giant asshole who causes horrible things to happen to us and gets really mad when we don’t like it, but he loves us unconditionally and because he loves us we should just take whatever he dishes out. God envisioned as domestic abuser. Got it.

    Being a “rational” Catholic requires doublethink that would make Orwell proud. For something unrelated to abortion, see the transubstantiation nonsense.

  52. groggette
    groggette May 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm |

    White,
    So you would have me die rather than have a life saving abortion of a fetus that would never be viable. This isn’t a hypothetical. In the rare chance I got pregnant, the pregnancy would be ectopic, and it would kill me. I want you to actually tell me that you think I deserve to die since that’s what you’re (barely) beating around the bush about.

  53. Emily WK
    Emily WK May 21, 2010 at 7:13 pm |

    Ugh, Karen. The fact that they got a doctor who had never met this patient to say that there was ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHATSOEVER that this abortion saved the woman’s life, that they could have just kept her gestating the perfect wonderful little baby inside of her until 21-24 weeks and then possibly the MASSIVELY PREMATURE baby would have survived and they could have treated her medical issues then.

    Oh! Well, that clears that up. A doctor who has no direct knowledge of the case is TOTES qualified to make those kinds of proclamations! It isn’t like each person is different and they may not have released all of this woman’s medical history to the press (which would, you know, be a violation of law). No, no. Let’s just find some sympathetic pro-life douchebag who has MD after his name to proclaim that this wasn’t necessary.

  54. bats
    bats May 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm |

    I’m a Christian, and i believe that God’s plan is probably not something that a human being can hope to fully understand. I also doubt he sees death the same way we do. I think it’s up to the mother whether or not she’s going to abort a child or fetus. It’s HER child, HER life, and HER belief structures. It’s not our business and it’s wrong for pro-life or pro-choice or the church to pick up her personal struggle and brandish it around like a weapon.

    The problem doesn’t lie with God. The problem lies in man and the power he wields by claiming that he knows what God wants.

  55. Sprout
    Sprout May 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm |

    @White
    You’re saying that killing a conjoined twin who needs her/his twin’s organs to survive is accidental killing only because her/his need for the use of the twin’s organs is not a need shared by all humans? So, by that logic, anyone who has a survival need that is not shared by all other humans can be justly killed “accidentally” simply because their need is unique? And an action that kills someone is only wrong if doing that same action to any other person in the world would kill them too? So, for example, it’s perfectly ok to purposely withhold needed insulin injections from a diabetic, causing that person to die, because insulin injections are not needs for all people, and withholding insulin from non-diabetics wouldn’t kill them? I find this logic highly flawed and extremely prejudiced towards differently abled people.

    I think you’re just fabricating these (totally inconsistent) “accidentally oriented death” arguments in order to make yourself feel better about condoning killing women.

  56. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm |

    I was adding links to my own post on this when I came across this frankly amusing post by a Catholic who appears to feel that the real problem isn’t that the woman’s life was saved, but that the woman’s life was saved by a Catholic hospital – if she’d known she might die, she should obviously have gone to some other hospital where they have no moral objection to saving pregnant woman’s lives. (I agree with that, but this guy’s post is just so NIMBYish about it: why must these pesky pregnant women behave as if they thought the hospital should just act to save their lives?

  57. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm |

    they forget that death is not to be feared but rather welcomed as the attainment of our life long goal?

    Well, hell, then! Murderers should be canonized! Suicide should be a sacrament!

  58. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm |

    Did they forget that death is not to be feared but rather welcomed as the attainment of our life long goal?

    So what’s the problem with abortion, again? It’s only death for the fetus, and apparently ” death is not to be feared but rather welcomed as the attainment of our life long goal”.

  59. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig May 21, 2010 at 8:44 pm |

    Sprout: Offtopic; I know a young woman whose parents did withhold medical treatment from her, so “God’s Plan” definitely applies to other situations than just pregnancy. Apparently B12 is supposed to take the place of depression and pain meds. Aargh. (And all concerned are devout Catholics.) She’s getting the help she needs now, thankfully.
    Ontopic: Historically, the Church actually approved of abortion up until the ‘quickening.’ Since 11 weeks is far before any movement can be felt, Sr. Mcbride should not have been excommunicated under the Church’s old rules.
    Unfortunately, because of the shortage of orphans that used to serve as wankbait for priests, the Church is trying to discourage abortion in order to give the priests more acceptable targets. After all, orphans don’t come with parents who make a fuss when the priest gets too friendly.
    (I’m being flippant, but it scares me that this may actually be true. )

  60. eilish
    eilish May 21, 2010 at 9:00 pm |

    Without compassion, empathy, acceptance and respect, you don’t have morality. You have some arbitrary beliefs.

    The woman who wrote that article didn’t stand in Sr. MacBride’s shoes. She thinks she would have let the woman die? Possibly the reason she isn’t on the ethics committee of a hospital. Funny how people like Sr. MacBride are. Proof that the Catholic Church hasn’t entirely returned to the Inquisition.

    All these people rabbiting on about how the woman wasn’t really in danger, and what they think the correct thing to do was, and how women dying in pregnancy is a beautiful spiritual experience for everyone force me to re-iterate: you believe that? Hunky dory. You are welcome to refuse abortion, or die in childbirth and indulge in whatever masochistic fantasy you like. But you have no right to dictate to others what they do. You are talking about personal spiritual beliefs. No-one knows if they are right. We make the best choices we can.

    So, White? Think abortion is wrong? Don’t have one. Pretty easy for you.

  61. Faith
    Faith May 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm |

    “I think you’re just fabricating these (totally inconsistent) “accidentally oriented death” arguments in order to make yourself feel better about condoning killing women.”

    Ya’ think?

  62. Randomosity
    Randomosity May 21, 2010 at 9:37 pm |

    Ever notice that when extremely personal decisions are being made for others by those who have no stake in the outcome, who are Pharisee-like in their absolutist adherence to rules, they seem to always choose the path that leads to the most misery?

  63. Cherish
    Cherish May 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm |

    What most Catholics forget is that Gianna Molla refrained from cancer treatment because her baby had a reasonably good chance of living (and did). Would she have done the same thing had she been in the shoes of the woman in Arizona? As a doctor, would she have saved the mother, knowing that the most likely outcome of not performing the abortion would result in the death of both?

    From my perspective, not saving the mother would have been tantamount to murder, so I would rather they murder the baby and let the mother live rather than murdering them both through inaction.

  64. Opheelia
    Opheelia May 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm |

    “But we never wonder (and indeed, some will hate me for daring to do so, here): what happens, within that continuum, when a woman who perhaps, in God’s plan, was supposed to die, instead chooses to kill the baby and remain alive?”

    Clearly, her act will unleash a demon who kills infants and we blame it on SIDS. Duh.

  65. Salix
    Salix May 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm |

    @ Randomosity

    How about a simile besides “Pharisee-like”? (Besides the obvious, the comparison doesn’t work–the New Testament portrayal of the Pharisees is, um, a little one-sided, to say the least, and rather inaccurate. In fact, many of Jesus’ teachings have close parallels in contemporary Pharisaic writings).

  66. Taishyr (Lee)
    Taishyr (Lee) May 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm |

    Perhaps the most frustrating facet (for me) of the other side of the argument is the whole “THIS GOES AGAINST GOD’S PLAN” thing that the… I guess “Catholic right” would be the best term? Tries to pull. (The most disheartening is that so many would simply let a woman die rather than give her a life-saving treatment. That’s just outside my mental ability to reconcile right now, though.)

    1) Okay, so maybe this is against God’s plan. Let’s presume that’s the case for the moment. Then… is God not capable enough to adapt to this? Why are we presuming we have the power to completely ruin/divert/otherwise terrorize God’s plan? Isn’t that an act of supreme arrogance to say that this abortion -must not be done- because it is -against God’s will-? We are human, flawed, dealing with a flawed world and forced to make flawed choices. I’m truly sorry, but God is a adult. He does not need people constantly micromanaging what he is trying to do, I would dare to suggest.

    2) In addition, you have no way of knowing that this is not God’s will for this woman to survive through the science we have today. Unless, of course, you have a radio uplink or similar to God, but you can’t prove the good Sister – or the woman who had to have the abortion – did not have the same. Yes, you have your faith and your religion on your side – and so did the Sister. And I seem to recall Jesus being pretty adamant on taking care of people, and isn’t he pretty much the most recent version of “hey I’m God, do me a favor and listen up” that we’ve had come down according to the Catholic Right?

    I’d continue with how it always seems to be “faith” and “religion” when someone’s direct suffering is involved but that’s been covered by others without my rant-fueled vitriol. This just strikes a nerve nowadays with me.

  67. Neko Onna
    Neko Onna May 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm |

    Alara @ #25- per usual, your example rocks! I am such an Alara Rogers fangirl!

    To extend on that, in much less eloquent terms- if the age of viability has not been reached (and 11 weeks is waaay before viability- I believe a fetus has to be at about 24 weeks to even have a 50-50 shot at survival), how can this even be treated as a case of murder? If the mother wasn’t saved, wouldn’t the hospital be just as guilty of murder, considering that the fetus would invariably die as well? The Catholic church does NOT prohibit all killing- we’ve been over that all ready- so if this wasn’t murder, and was done to save a human life, why the outcry? “White” unwittingly gives us the answer:

    I would disagree here. When the fetus is detached from the woman early, he(emphasis mine) is being deprived of a basic human necessity,

    In church terms, fetuses are male until proven otherwise. Males trump females in church hierarchy, and must therefore be given preferential treatment. The woman is a definite female, so compared to the possible male of the fetus, she is automatically the lower status being. That’s the real argument. The reason the nun is getting such a bad shake is that she showed preference to a lower-status being, and as a lower-status being herself, that was an unpardonable thing to do- lower-status beings can’t feel as if they might be able to band together in solidarity. If a man had made the decision, I wonder how differently it might have played out?

  68. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm |

    If you are a conjoined twin, staying alive by means of using your twin’s organs is a necessity. . .
    . . . so depriving the twin of it [the organs] is not intrinsically oriented towards his death, it is accidentally oriented towards his death.

    This is complete and utter bullshit. You acknowlege that the twin is dependent on the other’s organs, but think depriving her of the organs would cause “accidental” death? Um, no, try again.

    This is similar to how refusing to eat is intrinsically oriented towards your death, whereas refusing medical treatment is accidentally oriented towards your death. So starving someone to death constitutes directly killing them, whereas depriving a conjoined twin of the use of his twin’s organs constitutes an indirect killing.

    Refusing medical treatment when it could save your life is not an accidental death. That is a direct suicide.

    Try again when you’ve got some logic.

  69. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm |

    I used to be Catholic. I served in Iraq, I killed people. It bothered me, so when I came home I went to confession to confess to the sin of killing another human. I asked for a penance. I was told that since I had done ntohing wrong, and the killing was justified, I would not be given a penance, or absolution, since there was no sin. I did not feel that this was the case. I killed someone for no reason other than to preserve my own life. Why wasn’t I excommunicated? I would think my case was far more clear-cut than that of this poor woman. Don’t say the catholic church is consistant. They are not.

    This is one of the things that gets me. Radical right-wingers have no problem waging wars, and you don’t see pro-lifers trying to stop wars. They’re only trying to force pregnancies. This is why we call them “anti-choice”. We’ll call them pro-life when they start caring about life.

    I agree with Corbin, this makes the church inconsistent. If there is no acceptable reason to kill another human, then why aren’t all soldiers excommunicated, and why isn’t there a huge outcry about war? The real answer is that the Christian God, as described in the Bible, was really into waging wars and killing people, and was also into making women and “others” of any kind slaves for the men of the dominant tribe. Let’s see a pro-lifer try to explain that away.

  70. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm |

    Regarding “God’s Plan”. I remember a fable I heard as a kid in which a man was trying to be saved from the coming flood. He sat on his rooftop while the water was rising and boats, helicopters and stuff all went by but he refused to get on them because God was going to save him. When he finally drowned and went to heaven, he asked God why he wasn’t saved. God said, “I sent you three boats and a helicopter, what else was I supposed to do?”

    We do not in fact know that abortion is not part of God’s plan. God gave us our consciousness (free will) knowing that we would think, invent, moralize, etc. Women have been aborting fetuses for thousands of years because they have the ability to think about the future and to moralize. They know that if harm will come to the future baby (lack of food, resources, stability, etc) they should abort. If you ask me, God gave women the ability to choose whether or not to have children in order to improve humanity.

  71. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses May 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm |

    Christians have a great way of talking out of both sides of their mouths, with believing in God’s plan and free will at the same time. It’s either or, not both. God’s will and free will are opposite things. It’s not God’s plan when I think it’s okay and free will when I disagree. But there are billions of people in this world who don’t seem to understand this.

  72. Paul VanGogh
    Paul VanGogh May 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm |

    I wonder. Is the Church getting to an increasingly difficult place?, where ILLOGICAL – x to the 10th – things are coming to be said. (Black is white, –Orwell.) Where some criminality will be found at middle-level management. Where a split or two will happen.

    IMHO many Church officials have allowed themselves to be backed into a position(s) like the Prot. fundamentalists of 100 yr ago. At this rate they are going to LOSE !

    Some say the RC has adapted in the past… Verily: people survive accidents sometimes, and become vegitables. In just what shape will the RC Church be?

  73. Susie
    Susie May 22, 2010 at 12:29 am |

    @Jesurgislac:

    The good Dr. Nadal seems even more peeved at the presiding doctor in the case, who should have made it clear to the ailing mother at the outset that St. Joseph’s might have to let her die if she got any worse.

  74. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 22, 2010 at 12:41 am |

    I like this quote quite a bit:

    “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.” — Darwin

    But I guess the Catholic Church really does see dying because there is an obligate parasite in your internal organs as part of “God’s plan” … so yeah. That’s creepy as fuck.

  75. Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D.
    Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D. May 22, 2010 at 5:35 am |

    Susie,

    Hi there. A minor correction. I’m not peeved about anything. From my perspective in bioethics, this is a case about the rights of all groups to self-identify, and the right to have subordinate members of that organization follow the mission and dictates of that group’s core identity and leadership.

    The issue regarding Sr. McBride involves a flawed understanding of Directive 47, quoted by a reader in the comments posted above. The procedures that are permissible are those that do not violate the principle of double-effect by the direct targetting of the baby as the cause of the pathology, rather than the removal of a diseased organ that incindentally contains the baby.

    In this case, the baby was not the cause of the pulmonary hypertension, and no physician could guarantee death as a certain outcome.

    Further, if a couple wishes to hold abortion in reserve as a viable option, then a responsible physician in practice at a Catholic hospital is obligated to tell that patient the policy regarding direct abortion, and leave it to the couple if they wish to pursue care at a facility willing to honor their legal option for abortion. In this case an ethics panel was convened. That would not be necessary in a hospital where abortion is practiced. Should the panel have decided differently, the physician would have been in hot water for managing a patient who would possibly present with life-threatening symptoms seeking an abortion that is precluded by Canon Law, Moral Theology, and Directive 47.

    It isn’t about me being peeved. It’s about dealing truthfully with patients from the start. I’m not here to win converts or any other silliness. But I will hold the pro-choicers here to your own standard.

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion. You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.

    In a city as large as Phoenix, with 1.5 million in city, and a metro area of 4.5 million, St. Joseph’s is FAR from the only hospital in town. Women wanting to reserve their right to an abortion are well-advised to seek physicians who practice in equally, or even better equipped and staffed hospitals where that choice will be honored.

  76. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 22, 2010 at 8:19 am |

    What all the Catholic experts here are conveniently failing to mention in their bloviating about “God’s plan” and “God’s will” is the concept of free will, which plays into church teachings in no small measure.

  77. Randomosity
    Randomosity May 22, 2010 at 8:42 am |

    Bushfire: I agree with Corbin, this makes the church inconsistent. If there is no acceptable reason to kill another human, then why aren’t all soldiers excommunicated, and why isn’t there a huge outcry about war? The real answer is that the Christian God, as described in the Bible, was really into waging wars and killing people, and was also into making women and “others” of any kind slaves for the men of the dominant tribe. Let’s see a pro-lifer try to explain that away.

    Seems to me that in the ancient world, no matter what culture, no matter what hemisphere, there was one really easy and obvious way to defend your villages when the men were off raiding, hunting, doing stuff that only men were allowed to do, was for the women to be capable warriors themselves.

    Had a conversation years ago on the Minas Tirith scene in Two Towers in which the women were shoved in the dark recesses while the men and little boys tried to keep the orcs at bay. Wouldn’t every single person capable of doing anything at all useful be necessary in an all or nothing situation like Minas Tirith? Even Eowyn was shoved in the dark with the rest of the women and girls. Note: It’s a lot scarier to be kept in the dark, knowing nothing at all about what’s happening up top, than it would be to have something to at least throw rocks at.

    The answer is that if women can defend themselves, invaders can’t just waltz into your village and capture them. Wouldn’t that be what villages all over would want? No. Not if you’re an all-male raiding party intent on capturing slaves.

    I’m wondering if the Amazon legends cropped up to scare the men into being warned that there were villages out there where the women were perfectly capable of self-defense, thank you very much. Legends of warrior women were in numerous cultures, but they were either supernatural, semi-divine, or all-female societies.

    So back to the topic at hand. Something is killing you and you’re a woman. Therefore, you’re not allowed to defend against it. Seems to fit with the ancient world’s Rules of Engagement. Thou Shalt Not Arm Women.

  78. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick May 22, 2010 at 10:41 am |

    What if that was all the life the mother was meant to have?

    What if it was all the life the foetus was meant to have?

  79. gogobooty
    gogobooty May 22, 2010 at 11:41 am |

    Doctor Nadal, in brief: Too bad, lady.

  80. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm |

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion. You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.

    If a hospital isn’t going to provide health care to a dying patient, it has no business being in business, or calling itself a hospital. Period.

  81. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers May 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm |

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities

    No you don’t.

    When you run a “health care facility”, which 911 responders are authorized to dispatch ambulances from/to, which Medicare and Medicaid will pay funds to, you have a legal obligation TO TREAT DYING PATIENTS. You may *not* refuse reasonable and necessary medical care to a dying patient. There is a reason Christian Scientists don’t run hospitals and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not put in charge of blood drives.

    If the Catholic Church wants to refuse reasonable and necessary medical care to a category of people, it cannot keep the right to run accredited hospitals. Individual doctors may practice according to their personal consciences, but an organization that receives public funds and is authorized to accept emergency patients may *not* refuse treatment to a category of dying people out of “conscience.”

    The Catholics are rapidly pushing themselves into a position where the rest of the United States will have to deny Catholics political office unless they repudiate their religion (on the grounds that they are beholden to a different national entity’s leader — and if you don’t think it can happen, learn some history; John F. Kennedy *had* to reassure the public that if it came to a conflict between the Pope and the US, he would pick the US, and he wouldn’t let his religion interfere with his decisions as president, before he could get elected), and will have to deny Catholics the right to run hospitals on the grounds that their hospitals fail to provide necessary medical care. If the federal government strips a hospital of its Medicare/Medicaid funding, it cannot survive. And if we all stop electing Catholics because we fear how they can be pressured by the Pope, the federal government will strip Catholic hospitals of Medicare/Medicaid funding for stunts like this.

    It’s like they *want* to go back to being a feared and despised fringe cult in the US, rather than the most powerful single religion in the country.

  82. Randomosity
    Randomosity May 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm |

    Here’s a Q&A from the diocese in question.

    http://www.catholicsun.org/2010/phxdio-stjoes/Q-AND-A-ST-JOSEPH-HOSPITAL-FINAL.pdf

    There is something missing from this and that something is compassion.

  83. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm |

    “Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion. You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.”

    When Catholics make choices that kill women, we have a right to be upset. That’s because we do not condone killing, unlike anti-choicers.

  84. Dizzyink
    Dizzyink May 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm |

    Just as an interesting side note, the Catholic Churhc didn’t ALWAYS despise abortion, in fact several saints were recorded as performing “miraculous” abortions, the most notable being St. Brigid, anti-choice Ireland’s first abortionist. Check it out:

    http://choiceireland.blogspot.com/2008/02/happy-st-brigids-day-irelands-first.html

  85. Neko Onna
    Neko Onna May 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm |

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion. You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.

    If the Jehovah’s Witnesses wanted to open a hospital that didn’t offer blood transfusion- because that goes against their beliefs- I can just bet that they wouldn’t be accredited. I’m sure legally, they couldn’t even call themselves a hospital, or offer emergency service. Yet Catholic hospitals are accredited, can offer emergency services, and are often the only healthcare choice open to the people in a given area (even in a city as big as Phoenix, there are times when the Catholic hospital may be the closest in a time-critical situation, or be the one your doctor uses, or the one your insurance uses, etc.) The difference? Catholics can deny lifesaving, legal medical procedures to women based on beliefs that are equally as arbitrary and as potentially life-threatening as the belief about blood transfusion. When its only women you target, it is a “choice” that must be “respected”.

    That choice, I am afraid, is nothing like the “choice” of abortion. If I choose abortion, I am not putting you, your beliefs, or the Catholic church in any direct threat of harm. I am not taking away your “choice” to refuse abortion. My “choice” can’t hurt you, but your “choice” can kill me.

    No- Catholic hospitals should not be forced to do elective, non-emergency abortions. But if they want to be fully accredited hospitals with emergency services, they should have to offer abortion when it is the indicated emergency treatment.

  86. April
    April May 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm |

    Groggette:

    White,
    So you would have me die rather than have a life saving abortion of a fetus that would never be viable. This isn’t a hypothetical. In the rare chance I got pregnant, the pregnancy would be ectopic, and it would kill me. I want you to actually tell me that you think I deserve to die since that’s what you’re (barely) beating around the bush about.

    Wouldn’t a Catholic hospital then remove your fallopian tubes, allowing the fetus to die an “incidental” death? I’m of the opinion that a woman in your situation should absolutely have the right to choose abortion, but we’re talking about White’s particular argument from his Catholic viewpoint.

    I don’t think he’ll tell you that he believes you “deserve” to die, either, because I don’t think any of the Catholics in question really, truly believe that if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger because of her pregnancy, she then deserves to die. That’s really kind of a ridiculous thing to say.

  87. eilish
    eilish May 22, 2010 at 7:26 pm |

    jesurgislac posted a very rational response to Gerard Nadal at his website. Good work. This left me free to vent some wrath I have had building up after reading the support for Bishop Olmsted over the last few days.
    Now when I attend my niece’s confirmation this afternoon, hopefully I won’t feel compelled to slap the bishop if he gets obnoxious.

  88. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe May 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm |

    There is something missing from this and that something is compassion.

    Boy howdy. That stuff at the link is quasi-sadistic.

    I’d like to know how long these shitheads would put up with religious interference with their medical treatment. That church is all-male-clergy for a reason.

  89. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm |

    I’m sure if St Joseph’s is accredited, there’s an accreditation body to write/e-mail to… and I think it would be only fair to point out to them that the hospital is being forced by the bishop to declare that for the future, they’ll comply with Catholic directives and let women who need lifesaving abortions die.

  90. DAS
    DAS May 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm |

    So what’s the problem with abortion, again? It’s only death for the fetus, and apparently ” death is not to be feared but rather welcomed as the attainment of our life long goal”.

    It’s a matter of “original sin”. Some people in the Church have forgotten that the Church no longer claims limbo exists.

    See, either the fetus (or embryo) is untouched by original sin and hence is truly innocent (wheras the rest of us are sinners who deserve to die) or the fetus is touched by original sin and hence, since you can’t baptize a fetus, administer last rites, etc., is going straight to hell.

    So abortion either results in the death of someone truly innocent (and hence is worse than murder) or abortion means that you’ve condemned a fetus to hell (which is worse than regular murder).

  91. DAS
    DAS May 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm |

    In this case, the baby was not the cause of the pulmonary hypertension, and no physician could guarantee death as a certain outcome. – Dr. Nadal

    No. Death was not a certain outcome. The patient could have lived without an abortion. My wife could be planning a birthday surprise for me involving a three-some with her and Serena Williams. All the oxygen molecules in my living room could congregate on the other side of the room, causing me to suffocate.

    Death was a highly likely outcome. Removal of the fetus was highly likely to prevent death. Therefore removal of the fetus is necessary and allowed. Some scholars of Torah would even say, in such a situation, an abortion is required by Biblical teaching!

  92. Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D.
    Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D. May 22, 2010 at 10:10 pm |

    eilish,

    Yes, Jesurgislac posted a rational and politely pointed series of responses. Yes, you did vent, and I redacted the nonsequiturs from your response. My blog is a place for people with widely divergent perspectives to meet and hash out their differences in a civil manner. I trust that you are capable of that, no?

    Jesurgislac brings up an interesting point about accrediting bodies to whom you may write. I have already done so.

    St. Joseph’s has released a sufficient amount of information on this patient that all who know her can readily identify her to other members of the public and the media.

    They have released her age, Month and year of admission, medical condition, course of treatment, and outcome. All of this in direct violation of Federal law (HIPAA). The administration at St. Joseph’s has carefully controlled the illegal leak to spin the story their way. They will now have to answer for this violation of federal law.

  93. eilish
    eilish May 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm |

    Gerard, if I slap the bishop this afternoon, I am totally going to blame you.

  94. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery May 22, 2010 at 10:23 pm |

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion.

    Indeed you do, and the ways they’ve chosen are morally bankrupt, so they really ought to consider changing them.

  95. piny
    piny May 22, 2010 at 11:58 pm |

    My blog is a place for people with widely divergent perspectives to meet and hash out their differences in a civil manner. I trust that you are capable of that, no?

    Would you be capable, if someone threatened your life and then insisted that you sit down and have a rational, civil debate over why that gun should not be pointed at your head? No. It is irrational, and uncivil in the spirit of the word, to expect calm courtesy in response to that treatment.

    Here, from a better man than you deserve to know:

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/05/the-dominant-hand.html

  96. piny
    piny May 23, 2010 at 12:03 am |

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion. You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.

    Accreditation, like other people have said.

    You know that organizations that purport to offer services to the public do so under certain community strictures related to openness and consistency. You know that this is a general principle of law in this country, and that it applies to most businesses and public-service providers.

    That’s why a landlord doesn’t have the freedom to evict a Sikh family, why a bartender can’t legally refuse to intoxicate queers, and why an employer can’t fire an employee who gets married. A public-health clinic couldn’t refuse to provide abortions or other reproductive healthcare to certain classes of people, either.

    A hospital, in the business of saving lives and helping people in extremis, has an even greater obligation to transparency and consistency. Much will be required, etc.

  97. piny
    piny May 23, 2010 at 12:10 am |

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion. You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.

    That doesn’t burden a woman with an increased risk of death at all, does it? Every pregnant woman should research the issue beforehand, and make sure that if she develops an extremely rare and urgent gestational complication, she is in proximity to a hospital that will perform the procedure that will save her life.

    For someone who argues from the position that categorical opposition to abortion is moral and natural, you’ve got a pretty nasty, cold-blooded attitude towards expectant mothers. I know I hope to spend those nine lovely months eagerly preparing for horrific illness, deformity, and stillbirth. I’ll keep the phone numbers of ethical physicians right next to the ultrasound photo, so I can look at them right before bed.

  98. Susie
    Susie May 23, 2010 at 12:21 am |

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to me, Dr. Nadal. I do understand that it’s not a matter of you being peevish, although the tone of your original post did sound that way, if you’ll forgive me. Thank you also for explaining Directive 47 in more detail, even if I’m sorry to hear it’s not as sane as I had initially thought.

    “In this case, the baby was not the cause of the pulmonary hypertension, and no physician could guarantee death as a certain outcome.”

    For those of us who believe in a woman’s right to elect not to take that risk and end the pregnancy in doing so, it doesn’t matter that the doctors couldn’t predict Certain Death. For those of you who would deny her that right ….one doesn’t know what to say. Your position does have a certain implacable logic.

    As for the right of Roman Catholic hospitals to practice as they see fit, there are obvious limitations to that. In this case, I think Sister McBride, in making her decision for life, if you will, got everyone off the hook, including the hospital and the bishop who now strikes postures at her expense.

  99. Jen
    Jen May 23, 2010 at 12:23 am |

    Isn’t the idea that we as mere humans can “thwart” God’s plan pretty blasphemous? I mean, if you believe that God is all-powerful and has a plan that we all have a specific place in, then if that woman was meant to die she would have–regardless of what the doctors tried to do. To assume otherwise would mean you see yourself as more powerful than the universe creating omnipotent being that you worship. That sounds like blasphemy to me.

  100. Kaie Driscol
    Kaie Driscol May 23, 2010 at 1:47 am |

    Yet Catholic hospitals are accredited, can offer emergency services, and are often the only healthcare choice open to the people in a given area (even in a city as big as Phoenix, there are times when the Catholic hospital may be the closest in a time-critical situation, or be the one your doctor uses, or the one your insurance uses, etc.)

    Especially if you live in a semi-urban/mostly rural place, the likelihood of the only hospital being Catholic goes WAY way up. Where I live, if I wanted to avoid going to the Catholic hospital, it’s a 45min drive with no traffic. In the morning, during rush hour, that transit time skyrockets to more than double. So, yeah, in an emergency, it’s the local Catholic hospital or bust. And for me, being pregnant at all is guaranteed to be an emergency. What a choice, eh?

  101. Natalia
    Natalia May 23, 2010 at 4:18 am |

    I don’t think he’ll tell you that he believes you “deserve” to die, either, because I don’t think any of the Catholics in question really, truly believe that if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger because of her pregnancy, she then deserves to die. That’s really kind of a ridiculous thing to say.

    To be honest, it really isn’t a ridiculous thing to say, I don’t think. Very often, these people do in fact express a certain level of disgust with women, with the female body – they simply don’t think of women as they do of men. They can argue about how “we’re all in sin, together, both women and men” until they’re blue in the face, but they do single out women as the bigger sinners, as the more dangerous half of humanity, in practice.

    If they believe that any complications that can arise during pregnancy and childbirth are payback for Eve’s actions and nothing more – then yes, a woman does, in fact, “deserve” death in their eyes. And they’ll play rhetorical games, and treat this death as something “beautiful” and “noble” and “part of God’s plan,” but the fact still remains.

  102. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 23, 2010 at 5:03 am |

    April: I don’t think he’ll tell you that he believes you “deserve” to die, either, because I don’t think any of the Catholics in question really, truly believe that if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger because of her pregnancy, she then deserves to die. That’s really kind of a ridiculous thing to say.

    Well, yes, it is kind of a ridiculous thing to say – it’s both absurd and evil.

    But it’s true – and not just of Catholics. There is a strand of thinking, and many of them have been arguing publicly over the last couple of days about this, that if a woman is going to die if she doesn’t have an abortion, she should die. They really, truly believe that a pregnant woman with the choice of abortion or death deserves death.

    The discussion here on What’s wrong with the world illustrates this (Karen linked to it far upthread for Lydia’s comments: Lydia is in fact Protestant).

    But I think the reason they argue this way, positively in favor of death for the women and against life-saving abortions, is because for them death isn’t quite real – or the women who are dying.

    Sister McBride probably believes quite strongly that abortion is wrong. Were we to discuss this issue in any normal circumstance, we’d probably have a massive argument. But she works in a hospital: she belongs to an order who care for the sick. For her, the decision to provide an abortion wasn’t, as it is to these religious people arguing that she should have let the woman die, a matter of airy theoretical bloodless law, but a real woman who was really dying. And faced with that reality, Sister McBride chose life.

    I am absolutely certain that Nadal has never in his life been faced with a decision of such moral magnitude. For him, the death of a woman in pregnancy is something unreal and distant, a halo and an odor of sanctity.

    “Must then a Christ die in every generation to save those that have no imagination?” Shaw asked, and the answer always seems to be horribly, yes. But worse than that: for Nadal and his ilk, Christ must die in childbirth in front of them, before they can see they’re hammering in the nails.

  103. Erik
    Erik May 23, 2010 at 5:22 am |

    This is maddening! Evil is the only word that comes to mind.

    I can hardly believe people reason like this. How depraved do you have to be to deprive women of the autonomy to save their own life! Ahhh!

    On a calmer note, Jill exposed most of the ethical problems with catholics’ position. But there’s one area where the catholic church’s reasoning is demonstrably wrong and irrational.

    This fuzzy win-win, win-lose, lose-lose partition outs their madness. Sadly, it reads very much like catholics are playing out a prisoner’s dilemma on the woman and her child. But even if we follow their sick logic, their demand to act on the vanishingly small probability of a miracle is _madness_ incarnate.

    Suppose we have 1000 pregnant women with this condition. Without operation, suppose there’s an 80% death rate, i.e. 20% of the time mother+fetus survive, and that we know this with a vanishing uncertainty (say +/- 0.01%)*. Suppose we value the life of the mother and the fetus equally. Suppose that with operation, the mother survives 100% of the time.

    Now let’s do the win-lose scenario—in every case we do the operation that kills the fetus and saves the mother. We come out with 1000 live women and 1000 dead fetuses. A 50% survival rate.

    Now let’s do the catholics’ cross-your-fingers scenario, live on the miracles-margin scenario. This results in the survival of 20% of the 1000 mothers along with their fetuses, i.e. 400 mothers + 400 fetuses. So 800 mothers+fetuses survive. Valuing their lives equally, this make a 40% survival rate.

    The church’s irrationality has resulted in 10% more lost life, 200 out of 2000.

    I’m sorry if this logic is offensive because it’s also very unpleasing to me to undertake thinking about life this way. But I think here it is necessary—I contend that there’s no way the church could sit down, attempt a “consistent ethic of life”, and not reason about greater goods relying on most-likely-scenarios from medical evidence.

    It may be loathsome to them to permit an abortion, but real ethical scenarios rarely occur in isolation. Medically we should always ask how we can save the most lives, following the most sound evidence we have.

    Their desire to stick their fingers in their ears and whistle loudly while they ignore evidence and offer up innocent lives to the altar of dogma is not only contemptible and insane…it’s a unmistakable shibboleth outing their contempt for women, women’s self-possession, women’s autonomy over their bodies, and our attempts to use an evidence-based approach to save as many lives as we can in a difficult and confusing world.

    Ahh! I’m sorry I felt like I had to do that. For myself, I _don’t_value a fetus equally to the mother and would not adhere to the logic I represented above. It’s just an attempt to take catholics at their word in order to expose their rhetoric as a patina for contempt and insanity.

    *-In reality the death rate for this condition may be much higher than this. I just chose 80% as an example. We can look at medical history to determine the likelihood that the mothers, and hence the baby, survives. AFAIK, the survival rate might be much, much worse with this condition (maybe near 100% fatality without an operation). But this only strengthens the case for saving the mother.

  104. Jackie
    Jackie May 23, 2010 at 7:58 am |

    I don’t understand how this behavior can be legal. Anyone (White take note) who defends these aberrant behavior obviously believes women are nothing but incubators. Institutional Misogyny at its finest.

    This should be challenge in the court of law. What’s really disconcerting are the women whose only option is a Catholic hospital.

  105. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 23, 2010 at 8:38 am |

    Anyone (White take note) who defends these aberrant behavior obviously believes women are nothing but incubators.

    Yes. One of the commenters on this thread actually says outright “I believe are distractions from the bottom line of whether or not a life would be saved. It was not.” It’s not a very well thought out comment, but the man who made it apparently didn’t even consider that a woman counted as a life to be saved.

  106. Faith
    Faith May 23, 2010 at 8:48 am |

    “I don’t think he’ll tell you that he believes you “deserve” to die, either, because I don’t think any of the Catholics in question really, truly believe that if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger because of her pregnancy, she then deserves to die.”

    Just because he wouldn’t say it doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe it. If these people didn’t believe that women deserve to die if it’s between them dying or having an abortion and living, they would support a woman’s right to have an abortion in such circumstances.

    I really do think it is that simple. Jesurgislac has already given a great explanation of what is likely going on in the minds of many of these people. For some, it isn’t actually active hatred, it’s simply a matter of not fully grasping the ramifications of their beliefs. They do not appreciate the finality or gravity of death when it is a woman dying because they have been taught to view women as sub-human.

  107. DAS
    DAS May 23, 2010 at 8:53 am |

    And faced with that reality, Sister McBride chose life. – Jesurgislac

    Or as the Deuteronomist put it (Deut 30:19)

    I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live

    If the woman dies, her fetus dies too and neither her nor her seed live. If she lives, maybe she can have a kid (either via birthing one or adopting one). As a liberal Jew, I’m obviously all about intepreting the Bible and not treating it as a static document but rather viewing it through a lens of tradition and with an eye toward applying a text “from [the time of] Sinai” to the present day (which is not too disimilar to how Catholics approach the Bible).

    But I don’t think there is too much room for interpretation here: the Deuteronomist says pretty much outright — “you have a choice — choose to live and let your descendents flourish or choose to die. You are obligated to choose to live!”. The woman in question could live and have an abortion or she and the fetus could die.

    Unfortunately, the Church would have it so she can’t even make that choice. It’s one thing to be “pro-life” and want to make abortion, with exceptions, illegal (even though I disagree with that position). It’s another thing to assert that the “moral” thing to do is to deny people the ability to choose life as God commands us to choose. This position is not “moral” but rather it is Molech worship (the Church would have its “children” walk through “fire”) and should be condemned as such!

  108. William
    William May 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm |

    It’s about dealing truthfully with patients from the start.

    I could not agree more. Thats how I deal with my patients, with honesty and integrity. What disturbs me about ethics in Catholic hospitals, however, is that honesty (like care, frankly) is interfered with by moral judgement. I am honest about what I can and cannot (or will and will not) do with patients so that they can make an informed decision and decide if they need to be referred out.

    I’m not here to win converts or any other silliness.

    That statement runs contrary to both the evangelical tone of Christianity and the historical use of public services as proselytization tools. It also seems irrelevant to the discussion here. I could go to Freud, but Shakespeare was the better writer and, to paraphrase, I suspect you’re protesting too much.

    Roman Catholics have the right to choose how we run our health care facilities, just as women in this county have a legal right to choose abortion.

    That is a half truth and a bad analogy. If I have a patient come into my office seeing conversion therapy (a service which I do not provide for moral reasons) I have some very specific responsibilities. First I have to tell them up front why I do not provide it and be clear that I will not provide it under any circumstances. Then I give an explanation as to why I do not provide it (depending on the circumstances, if I suspect the person is likely to be deferent to me as an authority figure I’ll say little more than “I’m not comfortable doing that kind of work”). Finally, though I find it repugnant, I’ll offer them a referral to someone who does offer such services. It isn’t my place to accept patients and, in the process, choose what kinds of treatments they will have available. Consent isn’t good enough, it has to be informed consent and it is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that the patient both understands and accepts the proposed courses of treatment. Anything less is deceitful and rises to the level of malfeasance.

    You make a lot of noise about women’s right to choose being respected, but are pugnacious in your derisive dismissal of the rights of others to choose by what standard they choose to live.

    Service providers have fewer rights than patients. We have more power, more resources, and ultimately the decisions we make do not have nearly the same impact upon our lives. If a hospital doesn’t want to perform abortions that is OK, but in that case the hospital should not accept patients for whom abortion is likely to be a possible treatment option. That means no high-risk OB/GYN, no pregnant patients, etc. More than that the hospital has the responsibility to maintain a current list of referral sources for patients who they cannot accept. They need to be up front and honest about what services they will and will not provide.

    Women wanting to reserve their right to an abortion are well-advised to seek physicians who practice in equally, or even better equipped and staffed hospitals where that choice will be honored.

    That isn’t the direction in which responsibility flows. It is the responsibility of doctors to inform their patients of what services they are able to provide, not the responsibility of patients to know in advance before they come into the office.

  109. Bill
    Bill May 23, 2010 at 3:03 pm |

    In this specific case, the mother would indeed have died, as at least one physician noted on the article you link.

    It wasn’t even a possibility of “wait until 22 weeks and then induce”

    She would have died at 11 weeks (and no fetus is viable then, so Gianna Molla would NOT apply)

    So for Catholics the question becomes: is it morally obligatory for the mother to die to avoid a _direct_ abortion (where you directly intend the death of the fetus)?

    I’ve asked her to specifically comment on that question.

  110. eandh
    eandh May 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    And I guess it’s time to point out, YET AGAIN, that Catholic-run hospitals get LESS THAN 1 % of their funding from Catholics through charitable donation etc, and the vast, vast majority of their funding from taxpayers via programs such as Medicare or from actual users and their insurance companies. I think it would be much more effective if ordinary people refused to be held hostage by organizations who don’t even put their money where their dogma is.

  111. Randomosity
    Randomosity May 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm |

    What seems to be going on is an updated form of human sacrifice that has taken form in such a way that the law can’t touch it. In the bad old days, human sacrifices tended to be women or girls. Today, it’s pregnant women.

    Saying that you can not abort a fetus that has zero chance of making it to birth is nothing more than killing a woman who doesn’t have to die. Doing it in the name of religion is nothing less than human sacrifice.

    We should all be appalled. And yes, my letter to the bishops uses the phrase “human sacrifice”.

    An excerpt from the letter I am sending to Olmsted and other bishops:

    “If compassion is evil, if raping children is OK and aborting a non-viable fetus to save the life of a dying woman is evil, then the Catholic church has a serious ethics problem of its own.”

    Maybe I’ll also be excommunicated.

  112. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit May 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm |

    Oh, I wasn’t extrapolating that from what she wrote. I was clarifying what Catholic doctrine actually is, since she left that point out.

    Coming back late, but thanks; I wasn’t aware of this, and was confused.

  113. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 May 23, 2010 at 8:32 pm |

    Amen.

  114. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 May 23, 2010 at 8:33 pm |

    Amen.

  115. Susie
    Susie May 24, 2010 at 12:12 am |

    Thanks to William for post #119. Very informative.

  116. Jenna
    Jenna May 24, 2010 at 12:24 am |

    White:”Suppose you refuse to eat. Not eating is intrinsically oriented towards your death, because all human beings need to eat; food is a basic human necessity. Suppose you refuse heart surgery. Refusing heart surgery is not intrinsically oriented towards your death, because it is not a basic human necessity.”

    Not that this is even super relevant to the issue at hand, but how does that make sense? Since when is nutrition a higher priority than circulation?

  117. William
    William May 24, 2010 at 9:26 am |

    Not that this is even super relevant to the issue at hand, but how does that make sense? Since when is nutrition a higher priority than circulation?

    All this hand wringing about what is intrinsically designed to end a human life is a feint anyway. Aside from the plethora of obvious historical rebuttals to any claim the church tries to make about their opposition to killing, there is a very modern reality staring us in the face: despite their weak threats, the church rarely excommunicates politicians for pro-choice policies. Every election cycle we see the threats and the bluster, but even when politicians openly support, advocate, and vote to uphold the pro-choice position the church does little beyond finger waiving or the occasional temporary refusal of a sacrament.

    Its easy to excommunicate a nun, it sends a message to other people dependent upon the Church that dissent or misbehavior will not be tolerated. It is somewhat more difficult to excommunicate public figures in a country that donates money, subsidizes your activities through tax-exempt status, and protects your hierarchy from being imprisoned for protecting serial rapists. Every single day the Church fails to apply the same penalties to rich white politicians that they do to poor brown folk is another day that the Church implicitly trades their values (and, by their own logic, the lives of the unborn) for cash and political influence.

    The fact that they are willing to muddy the waters of professional ethics in order to provide themselves cover for this kind of craven behavior is repulsive.

  118. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 24, 2010 at 9:38 am |

    No kidding, Jenna. The dude’s logic was incredibly flawed. As soon as people pointed that out he disappeared. I don’t know if he stopped posting or got banned.

  119. Persia
    Persia May 24, 2010 at 10:34 am |

    Hoping not to derail but I want to take issue with this:

    They have released her age, Month and year of admission, medical condition, course of treatment, and outcome. All of this in direct violation of Federal law (HIPAA).

    This is not in direct violation of HIPPA– or in any violation at all– if they had the patient’s permission to release that information. HIPPA doesn’t say all medical information must be kept in a lockbox, it says a patient has a right to her own health information and to say where and how it is shared.

  120. Sailorman
    Sailorman May 24, 2010 at 10:48 am |

    The frustrating thing about this is that medicine (and science) are supposed to “make sense” and follow rational lines of conclusion and behavior.

    Religion is not.

    So we can argue until midnight about whether it makes sense to “trust God’s plan” in this case, but not in other cases. But we won’t get anywhere, because not it doesn’t make sense and isn’t SUPPOSED to make sense. And that’s S.O.P. for religinuts because religion is inherently illogical and insensible.

    I mean hell, if you could convince someone to change their mind about a religious issue based on that thing you call “logic,” what would the world come to?

    What i don’t get is why a random belief system insists on sticking its nose into the domain of science, and then complaining when people start tossing logic bombs.

  121. Susie
    Susie May 24, 2010 at 1:13 pm |

    I took note of this from the First Things link posted above:

    “And yet, the bishop’s ability to make such a confident judgment in this case seems very unclear—to me and to many others. Moreover, the public outrage over the Phoenix case illustrates the dangers of making politically significant announcements on the basis of moral reasoning that not many people can follow and that even theologically well-educated Catholics disagree about.”

    I expect there are a lot of conservative Catholics wishing that the bishop had just kept his mouth shut. The disciplining of such as Sister McBride, and for such reasons, makes for very bad publicity. As William notes, her excommunication is really pour encourager les autres within the Church.

  122. james
    james May 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm |

    I don’t understand what you’re outraged about. The woman’s life was in danger and she went to a Catholic hospital, where they provided her with an abortion and saved her life. Shouldn’t you be thanking the Church?

    I can’t see how the Nun’s vote had any practical consequences. The patient consented to an abortion, her doctors were willing to perform it, what was the Nun’s role in all of this? She was one vote on an ethics committee – which has no legal force, even if it had unanimously opposed the procedure, which it didn’t. The doctors had a professional obligation to perform a neccesarly life saving treatment – or face the judgement of their professional bodies and the courts – regardless of the theological opinion of an administator. All that happened is she made the wrong call with regards to Catholic dogma, but that’s between her and the theologians.

    There’s a lot of heat in this thread. But as far as I can see – at least in the US – women aren’t being left to die because Catholic hospitals won’t provide then with life savng abortions. And this Nun did not save anyone’s life. This all seems like a lot of pointless feminist catholic baiting and catholic feminist baiting.

  123. Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D.
    Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D. May 24, 2010 at 6:24 pm |

    Bushfire,

    The dude also has a personal and professional life as a researcher, as well as hosting his own blog and writing columns for several publications. That said, there is an awful lot of invective that passes for informed debate here. The dude’s logic is actually sound. It’s just that there are competing world views at play here.

    The Catholic position is very clear. You may not tear apart a baby, literally tear apart an 11-week old baby one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives.

    Obviously people here have no problem with doing just that. If you want a rational and civilized discussion on it, you’re welcome at my blog. If people want to sneer, don’t let me ruin the party here.

    Ciao

  124. Vera Brubtly
    Vera Brubtly May 24, 2010 at 7:07 pm |

    Nadal,

    You are also a liar, the fetus was 11 weeks gestation, not a born baby at 11 weeks.
    You are fully ok with killing the woman, remember her? The actual, already born person? You are not at all interested in reasoned debate, you just want to somehow shame people for caring about the actual people affected by the willful cruelty of Catholic doctrine.

  125. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers May 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm |

    You may not tear apart a baby, literally tear apart an 11-week old baby one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives.

    So, because you’re squeamish about killing babies, you’re a-ok with murdering innocent women in circumstances where the baby cannot possibly survive. Good to know!

    And this is why Catholics must be forbidden from running hospitals.

  126. piny
    piny May 24, 2010 at 9:08 pm |

    Competing worldview? This:

    You may not tear apart a baby, literally tear apart an 11-week old baby one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives.

    IS NOT ACCURATE. An eleven-week-old baby and an eleven-week-old fetus are completely different. Don’t conflate the two. Neither, for that matter, is “threaten.” This isn’t a ticking-time-bomb scenario, although you seem like the type who would enjoy tossing around tantalizingly abstract moral issues of that nature as well.

  127. eilish
    eilish May 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm |

    Gerard, there’s nothing to debate. You are of the view the woman should have been left to die, and we find that view utterly repugnant. Repeating those views over and over only leads to a situation where my bishop was in danger of physical assault. Not a happy situation for anyone.

    As to your site being a place where civil debate takes place, you have odd ideas about what constitutes debate. So far you have Dr.Becker complaining you have misrepresented her; the alleged deletion of a paragraph of primitive religious bigotry from my post; and jesurgislac appearing to concede you have a point and hold an extremely reasonable position. Something’s not right, there.

    At the moment, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is dominated by men who wish to highjack Vatican II and return us to the Dark Ages. I apologise for this interruption to the spiritual revolution of the Church, and for people like Gerard. We hope to be able to return to sanity and compassion as soon as possible.

  128. Susie
    Susie May 24, 2010 at 9:24 pm |

    “The Catholic position is very clear. You may not tear apart a baby, literally tear apart an 11-week old baby one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives.”

    I am amused that you invoke rational and civilized discussion while using language as sensational as this. The position is indeed very clear – the prospective mother is expected to assume any risk and make any sacrifice, of her life if necessary, and if she is mysteriously disinclined to risk martyrdom the hospital will volunteer her for it by denying her care. Yes, it’s quite clear, and one hopes that Catholic hospitals will make it as clear to prospective mothers availing themselves of the hospital’s services. Of course, they might see a drop in prenatal business, since as a rule pregnant women do hope to leave the hospital alive and free from invalidism.

  129. william
    william May 24, 2010 at 9:32 pm |

    The Catholic position is very clear. You may not tear apart a baby, literally tear apart an 11-week old baby one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives.

    Obviously people here have no problem with doing just that. If you want a rational and civilized discussion on it, you’re welcome at my blog. If people want to sneer, don’t let me ruin the party here.

    I wonder about your tone argument. On the one had you are asking for a “rational and civilized discussion” and seemingly chastising us for our invective. On the other you are putting forth an argument based purely on faith and, in order to elicit an emotional response, describing babies being “literally torn limb from limb” (a description which is inaccurate both in the description of the fetus involved and in the procedure likely to be used at 11 weeks). It seems as if there is a disconnect between these two desires.

  130. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig May 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm |

    Eilish: You seem like a reasonable human being, why don’t you just leave the Church and join the rest of us? Let those who wish to go to the Dark Ages wall themselves off, while the rest of us try to make some semblance of progress.
    Also in my experience, one can either be compassionate and able to simulate normal human behavior or one can be religious. I’d choose actual compassion any day.

  131. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 24, 2010 at 9:45 pm |

    Gerard, it’s impossible for me to have a civilized debate with a person who can’t tell the difference between a fetus and a baby and who thinks that killing a fetus is worse than killing a born human. That is an illogical point of view. Some people actually have the patience to try to talk some sense into anti-choicers but I do not have it. I find it completely absurd and horrific that people out there actually want women to die in an attempt to incubate a blob of cells. There are many great posts and comment threads on this blog and elsewhere detailing exactly why it is necessary for women to have safe, legal abortions. If you’re interested in something civil, take a look at one of them.

  132. Dianne
    Dianne May 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm |

    The dude also has a personal and professional life as a researcher, as well as hosting his own blog and writing columns for several publications. That said, there is an awful lot of invective that passes for informed debate here.

    The dude clearly doesn’t have a professional life that involves a lot of grant writing or peer reviewed article writing if he thinks this is a lot of invective. Probably not coincidentally, a pubmed search of Nagal G comes up with nothing. I’m unimpressed with the credentials.

  133. Jackie
    Jackie May 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm |

    Catholics are free to believe whatever nonsense they choose to.

    I just don’t see what that has to do with me or any other woman who does not believe in the catholic church?

    Especially when 98 % of the funding for these house of horrors are provided by the taxpayers.

    Its all swell that men have infiltrated this blog with their “manly opinions” trying to tell us women when we can and cannot live. I’m sure a lot of women sit like good little flowers and laud over your every word. I’m not one of them. Until you can carry a child to term, shut the fuck up. You don’t like how I live me life, tough shit.

  134. Dianne
    Dianne May 24, 2010 at 10:20 pm |

    Excuse me. NaDal, not Nagal.

  135. jopaga
    jopaga May 24, 2010 at 10:42 pm |

    Unfortunately, I think your “[un]willful ignorance” of the moral principles by which the Catholic Church approaches this and all other issues dealing with the dignity of all persons un-tethers Catholic thought, which is always built on concrete and objective principles and instead misrepresents it. This particular one deals largely with the principle of double effect:

    An approach to determining the ethical value of a treatment can be measured in relation to the principle of double effect.
    According to Fr. Thomas J. O’Donnell, S.J. this is defined as:
    An action, good in itself, which has two effects, an intended and otherwise not reasonably attainable good effect, and a foreseen but merely permitted concomitant evil effect, may licitly be placed, provided that there is a due proportion between the intended good and the permitted evil. (Griese 249)

    This moral principle essentially allows one to act in accordance with what is morally right even if a foreseen evil may occur which is not willed. In order for the action to be moral, the evil permitted must at least be proportional to the good caused. Therefore the treatments (Methotrexate, Salpingostomy and Salpingectomy) can be evaluated in light of five points included in this principle: 1. Is the action good in itself or at least indifferent? 2. Is the intended effect good? 3. Is the permitted evil effect is foreseen as a side effect? 4. Does the evil effect come as a result of the good effect? 5. Is there a proportionate reason for the foreseen evil to occur? (Griese 249-252). If all these points can be satisfied in a given treatment then it is deemed to be ethically permissible.

    The Church’s teaching is parallel in its understanding of “natural law” which holds that we are created by a creator and that all creation is ordered toward a good end directed by that creator which we can observe and logically conclude. Of course, it is difficult to see any of this through the lens of the relativistic world in which we live in, where “you have your truth and I have mine”… and the two will never meet.

    You’ve written quite well on the topic, but you’ll need to go deeper into the fundamental and objective principles with which Catholic thought carefully and painstakingly adheres to as it seeks to treat all persons with equal dignity.

    Please consider contacting the National Catholic Bioethics Center for the resources that spell out what you unfortunately, have fallen short of acknowledging in your portrayal of the Church’s position. Nothing to lose…

  136. eilish
    eilish May 24, 2010 at 10:58 pm |

    Politicalguineapig: what, and leave people like Gerard in charge? That would be extremely irresponsible.

    No, it’s better to remain where I am, in a position to influence young minds.
    Heh heh heh.

  137. chad
    chad May 24, 2010 at 11:26 pm |

    If I had to decide between (i) *directly* killing an adult human being in order to save another adult, or (ii) letting them both die, I’m not sure what I would do. It seems to me like a really miserable situation, morally speaking. Since Gerard thinks that fetuses have the same moral status as adults, his view is that this is precisely the situation that one is facing in an ectopic pregnancy. And, if he were right about that, I think his position would not be clearly false.

    However, since his position *is* clearly false, the right conclusion to draw is that fetuses must not have the same moral status as adults, at least not at the early stage at which the question of how to treat an ectopic pregnancy arises.

  138. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig May 24, 2010 at 11:32 pm |

    Good luck with the influencing of young minds. Even though I’d see it as being on par with smashing my head into a brick wall, it’s your head and you get to decide what to do with it.
    I’d like to be a religious person, I really would, but thanks to guys like the commenters above and the evangelicals, I’ve become convinced that God hates me because I wasn’t born male. And oh yeah, I don’t think like they do.
    Since I quite like being female- except for five days out of the month, I’ll stay away from churches for a looong time to come.

  139. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 25, 2010 at 12:56 am |

    jesurgislac appearing to concede you have a point and hold an extremely reasonable position. Something’s not right, there.

    Nadal deleted some of my comments – I don’t know yet how many, but certainly the one where I said flatly that the position of the Catholic Church, mandating death for pregnant women, was absolutely wrong – especially for anyone running a hospital and that Bishop Olmsted and his ilk ought to be opposed. He then informed me that if I was going to use plain English (the word he used was “defecate”) about the Catholic Church’s pro-death bioethics, I wasn’t welcome on his blog.

    People like Nadal who are prepared to explain out in there in public that the Catholic Church really strongly believes that the “equality” they claim between the fetus and the mother is the equality of death, that it’s better to let two die than one to be saved, are the best resources possible as evidence why Catholic bioethics ought to be left to academia and religious retreats, and the Catholic Church ought to be strongly counselling devout Catholics to stay away from OB/GYN or any kind of emergency medicine.

    I do think that people are entitled to freedom of religion. It’s beyond creepy to believe as Nadal does that forcing a pregnant woman to die is a sacred thing, but providing this belief stays in church and isn’t allowed any traction in hospitals or healthcare, it’s like the Catholic belief that all lesbians and gays are evil and going to hell: it’s a cruel and hurtful religion, but it’s open to the practicioners to believe what they choose, and it’s open to the rest of us to condemn how screwed-up this makes them.

  140. eilish
    eilish May 25, 2010 at 1:01 am |

    jopaga, thank you so much. Please consider becoming the next pope.

    Politicalguineapig: I didn’t get much of a choice about being Catholic. The “get ‘em while they’re young” thing works terribly well. The payback is, they’re stuck with people like me for life.
    Influencing young minds is a pleasure. It’s the people like Gerard who cause the pain.

  141. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 25, 2010 at 1:15 am |

    dude clearly doesn’t have a professional life that involves a lot of grant writing or peer reviewed article writing if he thinks this is a lot of invective. Probably not coincidentally, a pubmed search of Nagal G comes up with nothing. I’m unimpressed with the credentials.

    Okay, so he doesn’t actually publish anything as far as Pubmed can tell, and we’ve seen the level of his discourse (shoddy) so the whole “article writing” thing is a little sad at best, but dammit, Dianne, he hosts his own blog. Is nothing sacred to you people??

    (And yeah, you’re absolutely right about PubMed. Ditto Google Scholar. Nada re Nadal G. :p Maybe I should search the dusty tomes of FailBlog next, there’s bound to be a hit…)

  142. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 25, 2010 at 1:18 am |

    I think the issue I have with the Catholics getting irritated that we’re trying to impose our morality on them is that they’re ignoring that they’re consistently imposing their morality on us. And me, sitting and complaining on a blog about how stupid these ideas are, I just don’t have the same power as a Catholic sitting on some bullshit board that gets to decide IF I LIVE.

  143. jopaga
    jopaga May 25, 2010 at 2:01 am |

    eilish,
    i’m sorry, having a bad life? anyway, i appreciate your heartfelt cynicism. that’s the spirit!

  144. eilish
    eilish May 25, 2010 at 6:07 am |

    Jopaga: no cynicism intended. I admired the clarity with which you presented the double effect dilemma. Your post clarified that Sr. MacBride’s decision was entirely correct. If you don’t want to be pope, that’s OK; I was thinking of asking Amanda Marcotte to present as a candidate. She would rock the triple crown.

    Jesurgislac: anyone who has read your blog would know that you have nothing in common with Gerard.

  145. jopaga
    jopaga May 25, 2010 at 7:25 am |

    eilish,
    much better. perhaps sr’s decision was really more like “close to 100 percent” entirely correct. that darn 5th commandment… always getting in the way.

  146. Randomosity
    Randomosity May 25, 2010 at 7:37 am |

    Just had to have a laugh at:

    The Catholic position is very clear. You may not tear apart a baby, literally tear apart an 11-week old baby one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives.

    If there is an 11 week old baby, it’s no longer inside a woman and thus causing a deadly condition.

    11-week fetuses aren’t even in the same ballpark.

  147. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers May 25, 2010 at 8:55 am |

    If I had to decide between (i) *directly* killing an adult human being in order to save another adult, or (ii) letting them both die, I’m not sure what I would do.

    I think there’s a serious moral difference between killing an adult human being who has no involvement in the situation because it’s the most convenient way to save the other human being, or killing an adult human being who *is*, actively, killing another human being.

    I’m going to try to come up with a relatively real-world-ish example rather than something from comic books. Let us say that Person A has a knife to Person B’s throat because Person A is having a psychotic episode and believes that Person B is a wolf that is attacking them. Person A is not in their right mind and is not rationally choosing to kill Person B, but they are about to kill Person B anyway. You are a cop with a gun and you’re too far away to physically pull A off B before A slits B’s throat. The only actions you can take are:
    1. Shoot A in the head.
    2. Do nothing. A will kill B.

    This is a scenario where A’s life is *not* dependent on B, yet many, many law enforcement professionals would unhesitatingly choose to shoot A to protect B. Would a Catholic? I don’t know, but I do know that lots of cops are Catholic, and lots of cops who are Catholic have not been excommunicated for actions similar to this.

    Now let’s get a little more ridiculous. Person A and Person B are conjoined twins, and B has the intestinal tract. If B dies, Person A cannot digest food, and will die within days. If A dies, B can be safely separated from A before A’s body rots and poisons B. You, the cop, know that if A dies, B lives, but if B dies, A also dies. This makes the situation cut and dried! There is no circumstance here where A can survive. Either you:
    1. Shoot A, actively killing A, so that B can live. You directly take a life, and doing so directly saves a life.
    2. Do nothing. A kills B and then dies. By failing to take a life, you have indirectly killed two people.

    You’re a cop. It’s your job to serve and protect. You’re here to save lives. So your ethical duty is obviously to directly take A’s life in order to save B, rather than to passively let both A and B die because you didn’t want to actively kill A. It doesn’t *matter* that A is innocent, that A is not voluntarily choosing to perform these acts. (If we go back into the realm of science fiction, in order to avoid the real-world issue that in fact mentally ill people are disproportionately killed exactly *because* people think they will commit senseless violence and also because their lives are considered less valuable, let’s say that A is under telepathic mind control to kill B and would never do such a thing otherwise.) The facts are, either A and B both die because you did nothing, or A dies and B lives because you killed A, and you’re in a profession where you have a moral obligation to save lives.

    This is pretty much exactly the scenario here. Even if an 11-week-old fetus *is* a baby, THE BABY IS MURDERING THE MOTHER. This is not an accident, not an unrelated person to the situation being killed. It’s not the scenario where you throw a guy onto the train tracks to stop the train from killing a different guy. It’s the scenario where the baby’s actions are directly killing mom. Now, some will say that because the baby has no consciousness of what it’s doing, it is innocent of the act of murder it is committing, and I agree. The baby is innocent. It doesn’t know it’s killing its mother. BUT THAT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT IT’S KILLING HER.

    We think of babies as helpless, lovable creatures who cannot possibly do any harm, because babies who have been born are harmless. But babies who are living in your body are parasites — physiologically and chemically, they are taking nutrients from your body to feed themselves, and they may be pumping hormones into your bloodstream which cause you significant harm in order to increase their own nutrient supply. They are not conscious of the harm they’re doing, but they’re still doing it. A fetus can kill you. It is not a harmless, helpless creature. It is a being living inside your body which may actively produce chemicals that cause your death or permanent harm to you, and it’s no more relevant that it doesn’t know what it’s doing than it is relevant that a tapeworm doesn’t know what it’s doing.

    Every moral system on the planet except Jainism considers it acceptable to kill in self defense. If a person is killing you, and you’re Catholic, you will not be excommunicated for defending yourself with lethal force, nor will a police officer who shoots the person killing you be excommunicated. The fact that fetuses which are murdering their mothers are being given a free pass to do something we do not, in fact, allow humans to do indicates that the Church values the life of the fetus *more* than the life of the mother… to the point where even when mother and fetus will both die, it’s more important to kill the mother to establish the moral principle that killing a fetus is never acceptable than it is to save the life of one human being who is being murdered by another.

  148. DAS
    DAS May 25, 2010 at 9:15 am |

    The Catholic position is very clear. You may not tear apart a [fetus], literally tear apart an 11-week old [embryo] one limb at a time in order to save another human being, even if the second human being’s illness threatens both lives. – Dr. Nadal

    This is the language the Church uses?

    Interestingly, the Mishnah (Ohalos 7:6) very particularly says the opposite — that if a pregnancy threatens the life of a pregnant woman, it is allowed to tear the fetus apart in order to end the pregnancy and save the life of the woman.

  149. DAS
    DAS May 25, 2010 at 9:37 am |

    BTW — those who would say “well Catholics can do their thing and Jews can do their thing: that’s religious freedom” should realize that pro-lifers are not content to let things stay this way.

    Consider the case of Nancy Klein: according to Jewish law, an abortion was allowed (possibly even required), yet so-called pro-lifers tried diligently to block what turned out to be a potentially life saving abortion.

    This is truly a first amendment issue — if so-called pro-lifers have their way, it will force Jewish women and their families to do things considered to be grave sins in Judaism!

  150. william
    william May 25, 2010 at 9:50 am |

    Unfortunately, I think your “[un]willful ignorance” of the moral principles by which the Catholic Church approaches this and all other issues dealing with the dignity of all persons un-tethers Catholic thought, which is always built on concrete and objective principles and instead misrepresents it.

    Yes, yes, very charming and all, but you seem to be missing the point in a very important way. If this was a matter of the Church I think a lot of people would simply not care. The Church can make whatever rules it wants for it’s organization and structure. Some of us might find those rules problematic, but ultimately it is the Church’s business.

    Thats not this case because the Church has decided to enter into the highly regulated (and profitable) business of medicine. Medicine is procedural and amoral. The ethics of medicine are dictated by industry standards which are in turn dictated by the standards of the broader community and the law. If the Church were selling baked goods there could be a decent argument for giving them additional latitude, but when the begin offering medical care they need to offer care under the same ethical standards as the rest of the industry. Thats the cost of getting into this massively profitable enterprise. This is not a matter of Church doctrine, it is a matter of a secular business that the Church happens to own. If they don’t like the terms of that business then they are free to sell it and walk away. Sometimes you cannot serve God and Mammon.

    An approach to determining the ethical value of a treatment can be measured in relation to the principle of double effect.

    This is little different from the cost-benefit analysis most doctors use when determining which treatments are and are not acceptable. The only reason the Catholics need a special category is because there are subjective moral judgments being injected into the decisions about what kinds of patient care are going to be offered. That is doing something other than putting the patient first in a medical interaction. As far as modern professional ethics are concerned that is an unethical course of action. The Church doesn’t get a pass because they can quote scripture or doctrine anymore than a doctor who has sex with a vulnerable patient can get a pass because he found her attractive.

    You’ve written quite well on the topic, but you’ll need to go deeper into the fundamental and objective principles with which Catholic thought carefully and painstakingly adheres to as it seeks to treat all persons with equal dignity.

    No, we don’t. Catholic thought is not something which non-Catholics need to “go deeper” into every time the Church does something repugnant in the secular world. It is not the responsibility of oppressed people to understand the documents of oppressors. By your own doctrine we do not live in your world, you live in ours. You might have gained some semblance of power here, but that does not mean that any discussion must be made on your terms. This is not an entry-level theology class or a thought experiment, this is the lives of real human beings.

    Please consider contacting the National Catholic Bioethics Center for the resources that spell out what you unfortunately, have fallen short of acknowledging in your portrayal of the Church’s position. Nothing to lose…

    Do you even hear the arrogance in your post? Why should people who are not Catholic regard the intricacies of Catholic doctrine at all when they are objecting to the actions of the Catholic Church in the secular world? What makes you so special that your values can be substituted and treated as the only valid points for debate?

  151. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 25, 2010 at 11:48 am |

    I love how Christians decide that everyone must live (or die) according to their beliefs, then whine about freedom of religion when they are called on it.

    Here’s a clue: this is my LIFE. I know, I’m a lowly woman, not an elevated fetus, which makes me so much dog poop in the world of good Christian and Catholic men, but I am a bit biased–MY LIFE IS WORTH SAVING.

    That some of the misogynist so-called “pro-lifers” on this thread, and out in the world, would leave me or other women to die is disgusting and evil. This makes you a misogynist. Full stop.

    That you’ve decided that we must become knowledgeable in all things Catholic (was raised as Catholic, BTW, but nice try) is arrogant. I do not answer to the Catholic church (even if I was still Catholic). This is a secular nation, made up of laws that are supposed to protect the rights and interests of religious people, non-religious people, and everyone in between.

    Honestly–when I see religions pull crap like this, I really do think we should take away their tax breaks. I mean, I’m supposed to shoulder that much more of the tax burden so that the Catholic Church can monopolize the hospital and health care facilities in many areas and basically sentence women to death? No. Just, no.

  152. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm |

    William, thank you for everything you’ve written on this thread.

  153. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 26, 2010 at 12:49 am |

    It is not the responsibility of oppressed people to understand the documents of oppressors.

    But don’t you understand? The trains were so very on time! Maybe if everyone had just looked at those lovely, lovely strict schedules we would have understood better and not got all caught up in “who’s killin’ who.”

    (Was that too subtle a Godwin? Can a Godwin be too subtle? And is it very wrong to mix a Godwin with some Monty Python? :p)

  154. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac May 26, 2010 at 1:38 am |

    JFTR: Gerard M. Nadal PhD has found it necessary for his own comfort to delete every comment I left on his blog after I pointed out to him that his own posts were a large part of what convinced me that this isn’t just a Bishop claiming a nun was automatically excommunicated for political reasons. (Bishops have used their power to excommunicate wrongly before: as another Catholic blogger noted, Olmsted avoided any pastoral resolution which might have found Sister McBride justified by declaring the nun automatically excommunicated.)

    After I pointed out to Gerard that it was his own posts and quotes and arguments which were convincing me that the Catholic Church really does require pregnant women to die if their life can be saved only by an abortion: that is, the Church requires devout Catholics to believe on pain of excommunication that it is better for two to die than for one to live – he deleted all my comments. Apparently, while certainly holding this belief, he regards it as “defecation” to say so in plain English.

  155. Bushfire
    Bushfire May 26, 2010 at 8:34 am |

    “After I pointed out to Gerard that it was his own posts and quotes and arguments which were convincing me that the Catholic Church really does require pregnant women to die if their life can be saved only by an abortion: that is, the Church requires devout Catholics to believe on pain of excommunication that it is better for two to die than for one to live – he deleted all my comments.”

    Wow. It’s amazing that anti-choicers can go around whining about the BABIES DYING and when you actually take their beliefs to their logical conclusions they can’t handle them. I’ve seen it happen a few times now on Feministe. You prove that they do, in fact, think women are incubators and should die in childbirth, and they either disappear immediately or just repeat some random ineffective slogan about babies and murder.

  156. William
    William May 26, 2010 at 9:38 am |

    After I pointed out to Gerard that it was his own posts and quotes and arguments which were convincing me that the Catholic Church really does require pregnant women to die if their life can be saved only by an abortion: that is, the Church requires devout Catholics to believe on pain of excommunication that it is better for two to die than for one to live – he deleted all my comments. Apparently, while certainly holding this belief, he regards it as “defecation” to say so in plain English.

    What I find most interesting about this is that even in trying to erase you he essentially cedes the underlying point. This isn’t about babies, reason, or doctrine, its about power. Its about the rage that these people feel when someone disobeys them, especially a woman. Its about the fear they have lurking somewhere deep down that if their mothers had had a choice they wouldn’t be here and the terrible helplessness they feel at even the thought. If a nun provokes that fear she is excommunicated, if a woman does she is to be left for dead, if a commenter does she is to be erased, so powerful is that fear that it’s triggers cannot even be countenanced. Of course it has to be a “rational and civilized discussion,” obfuscated through language and thought experiment, because anything else is simply terrifying.

    This is why, ultimately, I’m so strongly pro-choice. It isn’t about a disagreement between two parties who each have a valid argument. On one side you have women demanding the most basic of human rights (bodily autonomy) and on the other side you have people playing out their unconscious fears. Then again, isn’t that always the case when it comes to civil rights?

  157. Susie
    Susie May 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm |

    Jesurgislac, he didn’t delete them all. I decided to have a look around his blog and there’s at least one of your comments still posted. Most illuminating discussion, although not perhaps in the way Dr. Nadal’s readership intends.

    “…that is, the Church requires devout Catholics to believe on pain of excommunication that it is better for two to die than for one to live….”

    Yes, that’s what the diocese said:

    “It is not better to save one life while murdering another. It is not better that the mother live the rest of her existence having had her child killed.”

    Or, in cruder terms: “Try to kill your baby, would you? Your friendly neighborhood Catholic hospital will settle your hash, murderous female!”

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