Monday, May 17, 2010

The sin and scandal of it

If you've been following this story, you know what has happened so far: a Catholic religious sister approved an abortion at a Catholic hospital, and her bishop, Thomas J. Olmstead, has confirmed that in so doing the sister, Sister Margaret McBride, has incurred the penalty of automatic excommunication.

Of course, if you've been reading the story in the secular media, you've heard words about the "dying pregnant woman" whose life was "saved" by the abortion; you've also heard that the Church excommunicated Sister McBride, when of course as any Catholic realizes she excommunicated herself by participating in the brutal slaughter of an 11-week old human being.

Just so we don't lose sight of what we're talking about, here's a ten or 11-week old unborn child (image removed).

And here is video of a child about ten weeks of age. There are many more at that sight to look at, too.

I know that a condition like pulmonary hypertension would be complicated by pregnancy. But as far as the medical details, I defer to Gerard Nadal, who knows what he's talking about:
What we do know is this: An 11-week pregnant woman suffering from pulmonary hypertension was deemed in need of an abortion to keep the developing pregnancy from killing her. It’s a serious matter. The abnormally high pressure in the narrowed arteries of the lung make the heart work harder at pumping blood. The prognosis is usually poor, but there are several medications available to treat the condition. [...]

First, the abortion is not akin to pressing a reset button for the pulmonary hypertension. There is no immediate (in minutes) rebound to pre-pregnancy physiologic status. [Emphasis added--E.M.]
So this is not like preeclampsia or hypertension of pregnancy, in which case the delivery of the child usually lowers the blood pressure fairly quickly. The pregnancy was not the threat to this woman--her pulmonary hypertension was. The pregnancy was a complicating factor, certainly, but killing the child did not "cure" the woman or save her from dying or any such hysterical thing.

I do have one minor quibble with Gerard; I think we need to stay away from the framework which suggests that because this happened in a place with plenty of secular hospitals willing to perform an abortion there was no need for the Catholic hospital to to so--because the flip side of this will come back to haunt Catholics, if under government health care Catholic hospitals in poor rural areas are coerced into performing "emergency" abortions. We can't ignore the peril of suggesting that simply because other willing executioners of this child existed the Catholic hospital was off the hook, so to speak; the Catholic hospital had an opportunity to lead the way by providing care for both the mother and the baby, and it failed utterly to do any such thing.

That said, I am sadly not surprised that a Catholic religious sister would apparently see no contradiction between her faith and vows on the one hand, and the slaughter of an innocent human being in utero on the other. There is, alas, no shortage of feminist nuns who completely lack any understanding or acceptance of the Gospel of Life, and are all too willing to adopt the "pregnancy-as-oppression" framework their secular counterparts push at every opportunity. I wonder whether the bishop, or any other responsible party, has inquired into whether the hospital in question routinely dispenses contraception, including the abortifacient variety; so many so-called "Catholic" hospitals do this, oblivious to the sin and scandal of it.

Despite the hysterical shouting from the media (who has never met an abortion it didn't love), Sister McBride's actions did not "save" anybody. Sister McBride has the blood of an innocent human child on her hands, and has cut herself off from the life of grace of the Church by her actions. How long she will chose to remain unrepentant and thus remain in the state of excommunication is up to her at this point. She is, of course, perfectly free to leave the Church altogether, which I suspect might only formalize an interior disposition cultivated long ago at the knees of the Moloch of our popular culture. Certainly any religious sister with the slightest familiarity with the Gospel of Life could not so cavalierly defend her decision to have an eleven-week-old child put to death for the crime of inconvenient existence.


rox said...

my abortion of my ds Noah John was in a catholic hospital . you can read his & my story about the abortion on our blog .
here in canada hospitals receive funding from the gov abortion was one of the requirements to receive funding is what I was told just like catholic schools here get supplements from the gov so they in turn are required to teach the provincial curriculum .
The catholic hospital has never had a service or acknowledged abortions took place there . just hide it away just like sexual abuse . They no longer do abortions because the province now funds clinics .
I have had people just not beleive this happens , a catholic hospital would never do that kind of thinking just like the beleif a priest is always holy & would never abuse a child .kind of thinking .
in the end I saw money influences all . I'd rather have a poor catholic hospital that truely cared for new babies then a filthy rich one that sercetly aborts them .

Gerard Nadal said...


You are kind and gracious. Your observation is no mere quibble, and I dread being taken to the woodshed by you.

I think my point was that Sister McBride, failing to show moral fibre, didn't even leave open the suggestion that they needed to pursue other options elsewhere. This raises my suspicions that she is not so pure of heart in all of this.

But your points are well made and well-taken. I'm adding them to the post. God Bless.

Sister C said...

I am shocked, but not surprised, by this story, with which I was unfamiliar. My first reaction was "How dare she!" My second was "What a tragedy!" and finally "The very definition of scandal!"

Living abroad, I am not so familiar with Catholic life in the US. I have heard and read, however, about some very sad developments among many Congregations of women there.

Sad. Sad and scandalous.

c matt said...

Sister C:

If you are a nun, first, thank you for your service and dedication, and second, I hope learning of these kinds of things some of the nuns in the US do here does not discourage you. You are in my prayers!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

It is not clear to me, from the information presented here, that the mother was not in danger. True, abortion did not cure the underlying medical condition, but the pregnant woman apparently received medical advice that with pulmonary hypertension, the stress of pregnancy could produce an acute condition which could well be fatal.

I would be quite interested in more details as to what "providing care for both the mother and the baby" would have entailed, in specific medical procedures. You could be entirely correct. Or, perhaps what that amounts to, in real options, is that a 75% risk of fatality could have been reduced to 50%, or a 65% risk to 35%. We all know that such percentages provide a false sense of precision, and that cuts both ways. How much risk is society, or the Roman Catholic Church, entitled to ask a woman to take with her own life?

Would it have been acceptable to remove an ectopic pregnancy? From previous posts here, its my sense that it would, since both mother and fetus would inevitably die anyway. The facts described here suggest that a healthy baby MIGHT have been delivered to a surviving mother, or the mother MIGHT have died, or both might have died. I don't share the sense that the pregnant woman MUST take that risk, nor that the hospital administrator is automatically blameworthy for allowing her not to.

As far as the freedom of conscience of a Catholic hospital, its my belief that institution which want to exercise such freedom should be careful about taking government funds. If its privately funded by faithful donors, the hospital has every right to practice the faith that inspired it.

azmarie said...

I know this post is about aborting a 1st-trimester unborn child, but when exactly does removing the unborn from its mother constitute an abortion?

In my (rough) understanding of the Catholic position, it seems that some "separate" medical condition of the mother needs to be what is treated in order for any action to not be "abortion." (So, removing an inflamed fallopian tube AND the developing embryo therein is allowed, but not just removing the embryo. Even though the embryo is the CAUSE of the inflammation.)

So, does a cesarean section before a certain likelihood of viability count as an abortion? Wouldn't a medical team's true intent to save both count for something? Viability is based on current medical technology, so whether an early c-section or induced labor is considered abortion seem arbitrary. Furthermore, medical technology varies by country; some parts of the world have better standards of care than others.

If a woman's life is truly at risk, yet Catholic morality dictates that a living unborn child can't be removed before an arbitrary viability point (unless the mother dies), then it sure seems like women are really just incubators.

It's one thing to say that elective abortion is wrong; it's another to say that a baby must be carried to term at all costs, including the cost of the mother's life.

Red Cardigan said...

Rox, I'm so sorry to hear about your story. It's terrible that those who should have protected the innocent baby you carried, and you as well, let you down in your time of need.

Gerard--not the woodshed! I just worry that pretty soon Catholic medical professionals/hospitals/etc. will be "forced" by government regulations to participate in abortion--we can't give any openings on that one.

Patm said...

I would not be so quick to judge Sr. McBride. By all accounts, she appears to be a very serious woman who is committed to the church teachings. She is not a doctor, though. She may have made a grave error, and she'll have to make it right, but I am going to assume the best, not the worst of the woman. God is judge, not you or me.