Last summer, Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix asked Catholic Healthcare West to provide a moral analysis of the case that started this controversy. So CHW secured the services of the moral theologian M. Therese Lysaught. Her analysis, sent to the bishop in October, was rejected by Olmsted last month. We have obtained Lysaught’s cover letter to CHW along with her analysis.
In her cover letter, Lysaught summarizes her conclusion: “The procedure performed at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center on November 5, 2009, cannot properly be described as an abortion. The act, per its moral object, must accurately be described as saving the life of the mother. The death of the fetus was, at maximum, nondirect and praeter intentionem. More likely, the fetus was already dying due to the pathological situation prior to the intervention; as such, it is inaccurate to understand the death of the fetus as an accessory consequence to the intervention.”
Lysaught’s analysis includes a detailed summary of the medical condition of the mother. In October 2009, the mother’s doctor counseled her to terminate the pregnancy because the symptoms of her pulmonary hypertension were worsening. He estimated that, given the advanced state of her disease, she would have a 50-50 chance of surviving the pregnancy. The mother, a Catholic with four children, decided against ending the pregnancy. Less than a month later, she was admitted to St. Joseph’s with more severe symptoms.