This article was originally published Dec 23, 2010, so it reflects older comments.  I am re-publishing this post to include considerable new material. 9/15/11 Admin Note: Comments on this post have been closed due to the quantity I still receive and their general nature.

I believe I’m reporting correctly that a Catholic bishop is under fire by the ACLU for speaking out against an abortion recently performed at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix. As of right now, the hospital’s administrator, a nun with a medical and administration degree, has been excommunicated and association with (aka direct and indirect donations from) the Roman Catholic Church has been withdrawn from the hospital. No one knows whether this will stand and the exact reason why or if it’s temporary til all investigations are completed. This of course has elsewhere on Facebook dissolved into a “brawl” about abortion, women’s rights, the patriarchal control of the Catholic Church, an excuse to bring up the children abused by priests (as if pastors of other religions are entirely blameless – NOT) issue again, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, yada, yada. Guess what, I don’t have an opinion because I don’t have to and because it would be premature. I don’t have all the facts about what happened (although I’ve gleaned many), I don’t know the process of how the Church processes canonical law violations, I don’t know the mother’s beliefs, the context within which the Bishop expressed his opinion, etc.
I really appreciate when people provide facts instead of letting their mouths spilleth over uninhibited and uninformed, no matter the side. Facebook member, Richard Johnson posted the following about the issue.

“The report of the moral theologian that reviewed the case can be found here:

http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/St.-Josephs-Hospital-Analysis.pdf

As stated in this report the… unborn child had already begun to die, and the life of the woman was nearly 100% certain to cease unless the placenta (the cause of the problem with her circulation) was removed. Time was of the essence and the doctors on the case along with the ethicists came to the conclusion that the only way to save the life of the mother was to remove the placenta, which would result in the death of the child. As the child could not have survived in the uterus until viability and was, at that time, dying from lack of oxygen, the ethicists and doctors agreed that the procedure was necessary and did not violate the moral teachings of the church. The moral theologian who reviewed the case came to the same conclusion.”

I couldn’t find a blog that presented the flip side with equal clarity so I did a little of my own digging. The link below is from the reporting of Benjamin Mann, staff writer for EWTN (Global Catholic Network) News.

Catholic Health Association Defies Phoenix Bishop Over Abortion Case @ www.ewtnnews.com

This article includes the Phoenix Diocese’s medical ethics committee’s opinion. According to Dr. Chavira, a member of the committee, whether the woman’s life was at risk was debatable, but saving hers would not justify directly and intentionally taking the life of the unborn.  The health threat is identified as being due to a preexisting condition which hormone production via the placenta due to pregnancy was seeming to adversely affecting.  The doctor argues the placenta was not “diseased”, medication was the appropriate procedure and that the placentectomy performed was not a necessary medical procedure that “indirectly resulted in the loss of life to an unborn child” (which is ethically allowed).

Obviously the two sides came to different decisions because the prefaces to their conclusions differ.  I certainly don’t have the medical background to draw a conclusion from the facts, let alone to make a moral judgment.  Both sides make reasoned arguments.  Both, to me, seem to be trying their best to apply moral principles.  I think too little weight is given to the fact that the hospital’s ethics committee was trying to do so under the stress of reality and time constraints.  I wonder at times if the hospital committee, having reviewed everything later and admitted fault, would still be rejected.

I CAN say these two things…1) It MIGHT be prudent for all of us, as imperfect human beings, to remain silent on the issue until we have all the facts and 2) we would not have the services of many institutions without the backing of religious organizations and the ACLU’s capitalizing on the general public’s ignorance by suggesting that Catholic hospitals don’t try to save the lives of women is another example of the same such pride. Why can’t people realize that 9 times out of 10, we say 200% more than we need to? In ways that differ from the posts above, this is a character defect with which I struggle, so that is what interests me in all of this. Most of the posts about this issue have been so opinionated and lacking in fact. I feel sorry for such people because some I believe may be unconstitutionally incapable of change. So, while some of you may read this and join in on the typical debate, what I’d really like to hear from readers is their answer to, “What’s your experience of saying more than you needed?  How do you recognize this as the sin of Pride?”

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