Nun demoted after a hospital team carried out an abortion to save a woman's life

Nun demoted after a hospital team carried out an abortion to save a woman's life May 16, 2010

A CATHOLIC nun and long-time administrator at St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix has been demoted because she had been part of a team that decided to end the pregnancy of a critically ill patient.

St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
The decision drew a sharp rebuke from Bishop Thomas J Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, who indicated that the nun – Sister Margaret McBride, the highest-ranking member of the Sisters of Mercy at the hospital – was “automatically excommunicated” because of the action.
Neither the hospital nor the bishop’s office would address whether the bishop had a direct role in her demotion. He does not have control of the hospital as a business but is the voice of moral authority over any Catholic institution operating in the diocese.
The actions involving the McBride followed a last-minute, life-or-death drama in late 2009. The patient had a rare and often fatal condition in which a pregnancy can cause the death of the mother.
McBride, who had been vice president of mission integration at the hospital, was on call as a member of the hospital’s ethics committee when the surgery took place, hospital officials said. She was part of a group of people, including the patient and doctors, who decided upon the course of action.
The patient was not identified, and details of her case cannot be revealed under federal privacy laws.
The Catholic Church forbids abortion in all circumstances and allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus.
This T shirt, popular in the US, poses a very pertinent question
In a statement, Suzanne Pfister, a hospital vice president, said that the facility adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services but that the directives do not answer all questions.

In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy.

Bishop Olmsted, after learning of the surgery, said:

I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese. I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.
An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.

Olmsted added that if a Catholic “formally cooperates” in an abortion, he or she is automatically excommunicated. Excommunication forbids the person from participating in church life. Remedies are available through an appeal to the Vatican or confession.
He added:

The Catholic Church will continue to defend life and proclaim the evil of abortion without compromise, and must act to correct even her own members if they fail in this duty.

James J Walter, professor of bioethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, a Catholic university, said a pregnancy may be terminated only in limited, indirect circumstances, such as uterine cancer, in which the cancer treatment takes the life of the fetus.
Catholic teaching, he said, is that a pregnancy cannot be terminated as a means to an end of saving the life of a mother who is suffering from a different condition.
Asked if the church position prefers the mother and child to die, rather than sparing the life of one of them, Walters said the hope is that both would survive.
Note: The T shirt used to illustrate this post is available here.

Hat tip: Gamblor

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  • Broadsword

    Mad, just mad.
    No wonder the RC Church is becoming unpopular. First the child abuse scandals and now this nonsense. They do like people suffering for their god, don’t they? Was the lady the doctors saved a Catholic? If she was I bet her excommunication comes a bit late as I’m sure she’s seething to know her bishop would have let her die (whilst holding her hand and praying to Jebus in her final hours no doubt).
    How more bloody ridiculous do these old paedos have to look before they’re seen as the backward-looking, science-hating dogmatic bigots they really are.

  • Women are useless, except to be broodsows for Jesus. Who cares if they die? It’s all about the fetus.
    Of course the whackos never consider the fact that if the woman carrying the fetus dies, the fetus will die too.

  • frankyv

    Why does any female of any stripe have anything to do with these immoral religions as they are obviously despised and worthless! Each vile deed leads to the downfall of their god but how many women will die before they are wiped from the face of the earth.

  • JohnMWhite

    “Asked if the church position prefers the mother and child to die, rather than sparing the life of one of them, Walters said the hope is that both would survive.”
    Sheer cowardice. He cannot answer the question but his lame attempted to evade it clearly betrays his contempt for the lives of women, and even foetuses, so long as the rules are obeyed.

  • Janstince

    It’s because they believe there is a chance of some miracle intervening to save both their lives. They delude themselves to say that god will come down on his magic cloud and spare both lives. They don’t look at statistics for these situations or listen to medical advice. Instead, they prefer random speculation and (often baseless and untrue) anecdotal “evidence” that both child and woman might survive. I find myself wondering how comforting those stories really are to the women’s surviving relatives. If this is his typical response, I wonder why nobody has left him bloody and chained in a basement and told him to pray for interference before he bled to death. But then, he’s never had a family to look after and mourn his passing.

  • Broadsword

    “It’s because they believe there is a chance of some miracle intervening to save both their lives.”
    You’ve have a point there.
    These idolators are the same superstitious cretins who believe a wooden likeness of The Virgin in a dark corner of a rural church can cry, bleed or lactate. If I made up something similar and preached it with passion I’d be sectioned.

  • Pinoy Heathen

    Here’s a nun who dedicated her life to her beloved Catholic church. She tried to save a life but now she’s going to hell. Hitler, who killed millions, the priests who raped young boys and girls, the bishops and cardinals who protected them, are still Catholics in good standing. Go figure.

  • NeoWolfe

    I have a righteous compromise. Everytime a doctor saves a mother’s life by terminating a pregnancy, a catholic asshole can send a condom to Africa. Then they save ten children for every one they lose.

  • L.Long

    The batshit crazy psycho says…Catholic Church will continue to defend life..Unless it is the life of some worthless female.
    And they do not expect a miracle cuz its a women THEY DON’T CARE!!!!
    Gay isn’t an issue with the fetus because as we all know gay is decision by a demon possessed sinner.
    I can understand women being islamic cuz they are so or get stoned with no law to protect them they have little choice. But xtians??? I’ve seen many fanatical xtians women, some worse then the men!!!! Why??? Do they enjoy being considered lower then schite????

  • Heather Flight

    If you join a club you have to play by the rules. If you break the rules and the club expels you, you have to ask yourself why you joined in the first place. Personally, I commend the excommunicated nun for highlighting yet another real life situation where religion and common sense prove incompatible, and at least in this one, common sense prevailed.
    In light of recent events, I’d have thought the bishop would have been more concerned with increasing his flock than damning their dwindling souls, but what do I know? Heather’s a heathen.

  • Barry Duke

    Our Freethinker post made it to fourth place on Reddit. There are some pretty robust responses to it here:

  • Angela_K

    Strange, I always thought hospitals were places that used science and logic for treating the sick so why allow the religious idiots to interfere.
    “Excommunication forbids the person from participating in church life” Sounds like a sensible idea to me.

  • Don

    Not just the RCC, of course. Martin Luther was his usual charming self on the subject.
    If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.

  • Stonyground

    It is a shame that most excommunicated Catholics seem desperate to grovel their way back into the Church’s good books. Presumably because of the childhood indoctrination about Heaven and Hell. Wouldn’t it be great if every excommunicated soul became an atheist evangelist like Dan Barker or Barbara Smoker. The difference is of course that those people ‘thought’ away their religion rather than being kicked out.

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