In what ways should God be thought of as pro-life?

The fetus was dying;  the choice was letting both the mother and fetus die or saving the mother.  As a pro-lifer, the Bishop thought both should die rather than the fetus be aborted.

79% of the Catholics surveyed disagreed with the Bishop!

From the National Catholic Reporter:

Bishop Olmsted ]of Phoenix] said the hospital had engaged in a direct abortion when the procedure was performed in November 2009. ..  the bishop declared in May 2010 that Sister McBride [who, as a member of the hospital’s ethics committee, had approved the procedure] had been automatically excommunicated for her consent to an abortion and then in December….

St. Joseph’s maintained that because the mother suffered from pulmonary hypertension, a condition made worse by the pregnancy, the chance of survival for both the woman and the fetus was approaching zero.  According to the hospital, the fetus was dying as a result of the mother’s illness, and the mother would have died had the action not been taken.  “Consistent with our values of dignity and justice, if we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” hospital president Linda Hunt said in a statement.

Though the story doesn’t say this time, I believe the mother has other  young children.  The question of harm is not confined to her and the fetus.

9 thoughts on “In what ways should God be thought of as pro-life?

  1. OK…I’m on the side of the hospital with this one, and for more reasons than just “pro-choice.”

    The whole ex-communicating business is plain silly, I think. If it’s anything like Galileo, in 300 years or so, she’ll be absolved, anyway.

    If there is a God in the sense the Catholics want to say, I’d at least hope those of us who are hell-bent get to talk to the Divine One and explain our actions. Somehow I think that’s what will matter, not any kind of human finger-wagging. Or candle extinguishing.

  2. Couldn’t the nun’s action be justified according to DDE, and thus acceptable to the magisterium?

  3. The issue of disagreement between the Church hierarchy and its members is an interesting one, but those specific survey results don’t surprise me. Growing up Roman Catholic and in a rural, conservative-leaning parish, I recall plenty of disagreement, especially on the issue of birth control.

  4. Kevin, I suspect that what they had to do to the fetus was too close to killing it to count as unintended consequence.

    I recently heard a discussion of the DDE that included the case of the people who need to get out of a cave that is fast filling with water. Unfortunately, the exit is blocked by one of philosophy’s victims, the fat man. The only way they have to clear the exit is to blow him up. Some people were maintaining that still they didn’t really want to kill him, they just wanted to get enough flesh off his body to get him out of the way. But one could say that they did really intend to kill him by blowing him up. Cutting off the interchange of fluids between mother and fetus seems similar to me, and I expect to the bishop, though I otherwise think he’s wrong.

  5. Jeez Louise. Living Boldly would be to have everybody swim around the fat man, through his legs to freedom or whatever, and then look for rocks or some other heavy object on the other side to break through the cave wall and set him free, too! Better yet, if the cave is large enough to blow up the fat man without harming the others, he only has to move back to allow them to exit. Then he could move back a second time while they blow up the wall of the cave instead of blowing him up. So he’ll have to swim to safety. He’s still got decent odds of surviving that.

    I get your point, tho, JJ. You already know I think the bishop’s wrong too. It irks me that the anti-choice people are always bringing up that problem in situations like this. They’re comparing apples and oranges, here. The fat man and the dying fetus’s mother have long lives to to get back to; the dying fetus does not. What these anti-choice people are usually suggesting in terms of saving non-viable fetuses is closer to saving the fat man by removing all of his limbs and the top third of his head to make him fit through the opening. He might live, he might not. But who’s going to pay his healthcare bills for the rest of his life if he does? Not the person who DIES while she’s standing around waiting for the Ethics Committee to make its decision about who gets to live.

    Sorry. If a woman and her fetus are both about to die any way, unless the woman states explicitly that she wishes to die, they should always save the woman. Always. A damaged infant of a dead mother has almost no chance of becoming a well functioning adult citizen anyway.

  6. This story kinda reminds me of those nuts who are anti-choice and pro-gun in the same breath. What? Retroactive abortions are ok? It’s not about saving lives. It’s about refusing people ownership of their own bodies.

  7. Pardon me. I just thought of a possible argument against my little rant. The key word in #5 is non-viable. So the exception to *always* save the mother might be an accident where the woman was left brain-dead, etc., with a healthy, unharmed fetus whose removal would kill the woman but save the infant. In a case like that it would be better to save the person with the better life prospects. Quality of life over quantity, IF a choice like that is required.

  8. Xena, I left out that he was filling the exit and had gotten completely stuck.

  9. Ok, JJ. Different people teach the fat man problem differently. My profs didn’t elaborate enough on that thought experiment. Our first year overview was met with giggles, probably because our prof was a chubby man. He moved quickly to Kant and the axe murderer problem. Then I turned the discussion around with some Oskar Schindler. My second year prof was a staunch Kantian; not much room for discussing stuck fat dudes or bamboo canes with him.

    Wouldn’t a completely stuck fat guy block the flow of water long enough for the group to consider other options for the use of the explosives? If not, then where is the water coming from? Another possible exit? :-)

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