I am trying to explain the circumstances under which Catholic Health Services committed an abortion on a mother with pulmonary hypertension. I understand that CHS has a history of promoting abortion and that the doctor involved has connections with facilities that provide abortions. Can someone please fill me in on the details of this incident and CHS history? In particular, I am trying to counter is that it was done because either the mother or child would have died. I believe this is incorrect and that the mother’s life was not in danger. I appreciate any details and links you can provide to give an Authentic Catholic explanation in conformance with the Magisterium.
Whether or not the mother’s life was in danger is immaterial. Supposing her life was in danger, they could have given her medicine for her heart condition, which as an unfortunate side effect, would have resulted in the death of the baby. Instead, they chose to give her an active abortion, murdering the child as a direct effect with the side effect being that the mother lived. By principle of double effect, they were wrong to do this.
These two articles might help:
Excellent, I love the CalCatholic e-newsletter. I also found another excellent resource on this from the National Catholic Bioethics center.
Apparently the actual details of the case are not available. The implication is that a direct abortion was committed against this unborn child, but it is not definitively stated as such.
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My take from a blog post last year. In 2010, Phoenix archbishop Thomas Olmsted renounced St. Joseph Hospital’s Catholic status and notified an involved nun that she had incurred excommunication. A woman received an abortion at the hospital. Brown did point out that Church teaching forbids surgical abortion, but the story did involve complexities that I thought warranted further explanation. The hospital justified the abortion in the following words:
[INDENT]Tests revealed that [the mother] now had life-threatening pulmonary hypertension. The chart notes that she had been informed that her risk of mortality was close to 100 percent if she continued the pregnancy. The medical team contacted the Ethics Consult team for review. The consultation team talked to several physicians and nurses as well as reviewed the patient’s record. The patient and her family, her doctors and the Ethics Consult team agreed that the pregnancy could be terminated, and that it was appropriate since the goal was not to end the pregnancy but save the mother’s life. (quoted in National Catholic Register, Dec. 22, 2010)
Brown’s focus in this story was to demonstrate the scandal of nuns involved with the hospital complicit in the abortion against the bishop’s position. However, I would liked to have seen Brown provide more information on why the bishop’s position was what it was. Bishop Omsted wrote of his decision:
[E]arlier this year, it was brought to my attention that an abortion had taken place at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. When I met with officials of the hospital to learn more of the details of what had occurred, it became clear that, in the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld; but that the baby was directly killed, which is a clear violation of ERD #45. It also was clear that the exceptional cases, mentioned in ERD #47, were not met, that is, that there was not a cancerous uterus or other grave malady that might justify an indirect and unintended termination of the life of the baby to treat the grave illness. In this case, the baby was healthy and there were no problems with the pregnancy; rather, the mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed. This is contrary to the teaching of the Church (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, #62).
In other words, the goal of the procedure was to kill the baby. It was an abortion. The baby was a healthy human being. The baby was not given due consideration as a person. They were not treating the mother’s cancer that resulted in the death of the baby. This perspective, though a difficult one, is why the bishop stood his ground.[/INDENT]