The other day my sister C-Money and I were discussing the case of the nun in Arizona who was excommunicated for authorizing an abortion at a Catholic hospital to save the woman’s life.
My sister remarked that the nun likely knew that there would be consequences of some sort or another.
Then she added that courage is what you do even when you know the risks.
I’ve been following coverage of the news story about the nun, Sister Margaret McBride, who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for approving an abortion in order to save a woman’s life. The specific situation is disturbing – the 27 year old woman was 11 weeks along in her pregnancy when a serious heart condition placed her life in peril. Doctors said that the woman would face certain death if she continued the pregnancy. The Catholic Church allegedly has a loop-hole for such cases at Catholic hospitals…so Sister Margaret McBride, an administrator at the Arizona hospital, approved the abortion procedure.
The woman survived.
Sister Margaret McBride was excommunicated.
In the eyes of church officials, she “consented in the murder of an unborn child”.
CBS News quotes Rev. John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix - "There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But - and this is the Catholic perspective - you can't do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means."
As someone who lives in a region with several Catholic hospitals, I’ve known that not all hospitals are the same for quite some time. There is a never-ending debate over the role of religion in hospital administration that everyday folks are probably not even aware of. On the surface it is all so simple – churches have rights, hospitals run by religious institutions often build policy based on religious doctrine and patients can choose to not go to a hospital if they disagree with that shit.
But things are never as simple as they first appear.
When a person has a medical emergency, they are taken to the closest medical facility…and that should be a good thing. In cities, there are usually several hospitals to choose from for elective things…but if a body lives in a rural area there may only be one hospital serving a large area, so the issue of choice does not apply.
That brings us back to the issue of hospitals run by religious institutions, those rights and the policy positions based on religious doctrine.
Even if you aren’t Catholic you are subject to Catholic ethics at a Catholic hospital…or [insert religious institution here] ethics at a [insert religious institution]'s hospital.
Even if your doctor isn’t Catholic she has to adhere to the policies of the hospital she is practicing medicine at.
That may not mean a damn thing…or it could mean everything.
Rape survivors who are taken by ambulance to the nearest medical facility may not be offered emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy.
Women who would like to have a tubal ligation procedure after giving birth are denied that option.
And a woman facing certain death should she continue a pregnancy might have died...but for the decision of a nun working in hospital administration.
It all depends on hospital policy…policy based on faith dressed up to look like medical ethics.
Think about that for a moment - the difference between life and death for many of us could all ride on the actions of one nun in administration.
Other writers have pointed out the rancidity of a church automatically excommunicating a nun for authorizing an abortion yet protecting, enabling and not excommunicating pedophile priests.
But my focus keeps coming back to what this all means for people living in communities all of the nation...to everyday folks who assume that hospitals are all the same and doctors will do everything they can to save a person’s life…and I can’t help but wonder what other scenarios are out there, unexplored and not yet pondered, that may challenge the ethics of a religion and thus limit the life saving options for doctors.
Tis true that “you can't do evil to bring about good”…
…and ‘tis also true that everyone isn’t working from the same definition of “good” or “evil”.
Many are now asking the question are Catholic hospitals safe for pregnant women and this bitch is wondering who else they aren't safe for.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
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