Between a Rock…

There’s an article by the Associated Press via MSNBC about an abortion that took place late last year in Phoenix, AZ. The article recounts the story of a woman in St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center who had pulmonary hypertension and was 11 weeks pregnant. The woman’s life was in danger and would most likely have died without the abortion. The ethics board of the hospital includes doctors, administrators, and a nun , Sister Margaret McBride who was vice president of mission integration at the hospital. Sister McBride has been excommunicated by the Bishop of the Diocese , Thomas J Olmsted.  From the article:

“I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese,” Olmsted said in a statement sent to The Arizona Republic. “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.”

First, let me state that I am pro-life, however, I find the Bishop’s statement to be an example of issues that some in the Pro-Life movement have. That is that the unborn takes precedence over the life of the mother.  To state it another way, Pro-Life is concerned only with life at the beginning or the end. Everything in between is not their concern.

Without a doubt, this is a tragic case. One in which there were no easy answers, only hard choices. I have a couple of friends who are in the medical field. from private discussions that I’ve had, these types of decisions are well discussed and deeply thought out. In other words, they are not taken lightly.I doubt that anyone on the ethics panel felt that the unborn child was “a disease”. If anything, they were probably deeply distraught over having to make a decision between two lives. Actually, the real decision was between losing both or just the child. The unfortunate fact is that the child was not going to survive either way. At 11 weeks, the unborn child was not developed enough to even try to survive outside of its mother.It’s mother could no longer survive with the child. The Bishop,  doesn’t seem to grasp that fact.

One of the problems with dogmatic teaching is that there are always situations that break the rule. Without a doubt, tragic situations like this occur with a little more regularity than we would like to admit. Truth is, to me being Pro-Life is not reserved for embryos and fetuses.  The Pro-Life movement needs to be consistent. I understand that in the eyes of the movement,unborn children are especially vulnerable. However, there is no sense in sacrificing two lives when one could be saved. If the tables were turned, and the mother’s life had to be sacrificed for the child, there would be a demand that the child should live.

I’ve had a problem with calling myself Pro-Life because of incidents such as this. Situations where there are no easy black and white answers and the predominant color is gray.  It’s troubling to me to see that so little thought is given to the mother and so much to the unborn child. I believe that it is time for the Pro-Life movement to start looking at their inconsistencies and become truly Pro-Life.

Some other links:

Arizona Republic article

The American Catholic

Beliefnet The Deacon’s Bench