Nun at St. Joseph's Hospital rebuked over abortion to save woman

Tough stuff! I'd love to hear some opinions about this article... :)

I don't know any mother who would put her life ahead of her child's.

I’ll let the good Sister’s own words speak

“It’s a really important part of our mission statement to care for the poor and vulnerable,” Sr. Margaret said.

“I think Catholic health care is more important than it’s ever been, just looking at the ethical and end-of-life issues,” Sr. Margaret said. “I think it will become even more important — the whole sense of dignity and respect.”

Here are the statements in full:

I think it would be inappropriate for me to decide what I would do in someone else's shoes and situation. In addition, there were legal limits as to how much the article could reveal, so I don't know what exactly was wrong with her, which makes a difference.

If I were pregnant, and it was found I was in danger, I would do all I could to wait until 20 weeks and have the fetus delivered prematurely and cared for appropriately after his or her birth. But the physicians in this case, according to the article, said that the woman could not wait that long. She was 11 weeks pregnant, and according to the article, it was implied that the mother would have died before the fetus' age of viablity, which means he or she would die too. A fetus needs a mother. If the mother dies so does the fetus. I understand that we must do all we can to treat both, and that you can't kill one to save the other, however, according to the article, both would die because if the mother dies, the fetus dies too. This is what I have a problem with because it doesn't make sense.

From the article:

McBride was part of the discussion about the surgery, described as urgent. It involved a serious illness, pulmonary hypertension. The condition limits the ability of the heart and lungs to function and is made worse, possibly even fatal, by pregnancy.


The pregnancy, the letter says, carried a nearly certain risk of death for the mother.

I hope that she goes to confession and gets abolved and reconciled with the Church, but then, no offense intended, but if a Church didn't think I was important enough a person to save, then maybe I wouldn't care to be reconciled with it, who knows :shrug: We can all thank God that we're not in her shoes, but the fact is, when reality slaps one in the face, no one knows how one will react until actually faced with the situation.

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.


Not all faith groups see things the same way. The Jewish tradition, the Mormon Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are among the groups that frown on abortion on demand but permit it when the life of the mother is at stake or if the mother is impregnated by rape or incest.

Read more:

I'm sure that the pro-choicers love this one, but thank God, this instances are very very rare. Makes me glad all my care is done in non-Catholic hospitals though...

Also, Plinko, I can’t help but wonder about a few things. Now, this won’t change my above post but here’s what I’m wondering:

AGAIN, we don’t know what was wrong with this woman. We don’t know her diagnosis or the status of her health. In addition, somewhere in the article, it said it was an emergency.


  1. did this woman know she was so sick before she got pregnant? I mean, 11 weeks pregnant is not that long, and neither is 20 weeks. She must have been pretty sick. Did she know before that she was so sick? and if she did, would that have changed her actions regarding getting pregnant? Was some trauma involved that may have worsened any pre-pregnancy condition?

  2. what was the desired outcome of the abortion? Would it have made her live much longer, or a little longer?

  3. What happened that it was determined at 11 weeks that this was an emergency? I mean, why not have the abortion sooner? not that I’m encouraging it, just wondering exactly what was going on with this patient.

  4. had she refused treatment/abortion, what were their other options? Just curious, again, doesn’t change the above answer. I mean, when someone has a severe trauma, and they’re pregnant, they can be put on ventilators and be kept “alive” until the age of viablity. What kind of treatment could they have done to save the fetus? And what would be the chances of the woman surviving if these other options were considered.

I think, since she was excommunicated, that she was competent to have made a decision in her treatment.

One thing I do not believe, is that I don’t believe the situation was a crock of bologna. I do believe she was in bad shape and made a decision regarding her treatment. Anyone can have an abortion anywhere. So the fact that she was working with her doctors in a hospital implies that there was something a bit more “routine” going on.

It certainly would have made an interesting research case study.

I applaud this good bishop, who has defended the truth of the Church without compromise, and upheld that the "end does not justify the means."

And here we are, trying to rationalize this away??...... :shrug:

**I think this falls under "Faith and Morals." And, as a Serious, Practicing Catholic, I know that Faith and Morals are dictated by my One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Therefore, let me point out a couple of questions and answers from "Ask an Apologist" right here at CAF:**

Is Abortion Okay To Save The Mother's Life?

What is the Church's Teaching on Ectopic Pregnancy?

Is Abortion OK in the Case of Ectopic Pregnancy?

Actually, doing a search for the 3 words: Abortion Life Mother ~in Ask An Apologist~, there are several returns. Pick one. Or more:

Like I wrote, regardless of how those who discuss this "think" or "feel" the Church is clear.

Also, there's the Click Here: Catechism of the Catholic Church:


Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"77 "by the very commission of the offense,"78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."80

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."81

Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, "if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence."82

"One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival."83

"It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material."84

"Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity"85 which are unique and unrepeatable.

**The Teaching of the Church is clear. These things are outlined and taught-to save our immortal souls.

The nun was wrong. The Bishop is correct.

God Bless.
+Peace In Christ.
Love, Dawn**

amen :):slight_smile:

I can’t help but feel we need to think clearly in instances like this. Are we saying the mother’s life is more important than her unborn child?

If the mother will die and the child will die with her, is the operation to abort the child or to save one of the two lives?

According to the rules of the Church, in this case, as it’s presented, they would both have to die, as neither one can be saved. If the woman dies before the fetus is viable, then so does the fetus. The article implies this was the situation.

Perhaps because Plinko asked for opinions on this case? It’s a legitimate question.

All interesting points of view! I have this question however.

How is this situation different than self-defense? If somebody was a direct threat to my life, the church teaches that I could defend myself, even if it resulted in that person's death. How is this different? The fetus is a direct threat to the mother's life, so why should she not defend herself?

Our will to survive as humans is strong; I remember reading the book "Night" as a pre-teen and being shocked to read that people fought over the little food they were given, preferring to eat it themselves instead of giving it to starving kids. Even when we have the best intentions when we are plump and healthy, who knows how our fear and survival instincts will guide us in times of crisis?

I'm not saying I agree either way, because I can truly see both sides of the argument...

Is the fetus directly and wilfully participating in a violent act against a person? Ridiculous question, no?

In this case, we may not, under any circumstances, usurp the role of the Creator of Life, WHO alone gets to decide if and/or who will live.

The Church teaches that both need to be saved or attempted to save. The hopital should have said, “We don’t know how to save both here…where can the patient go to try to save both…?.” before an “life saving abortion” took place. :frowning:

Of course you see both sides. This isn’t an easy example, and thank God, it’s a very rare example. It is a natural drive to attempt to protect one’s self, that’s very true. I’m sure that when faced with any situation that is a threat to one’s person, the drive to protect yourself must be overwhelming. But the Catholic Church teaches that the unborn is not a perpetrator that is threatening the woman. In contrast, your hypothetical person-attacker is directly acting against you, and therefore you should defend yourself, even if that means the death of your attacker. But in the case of a pregnancy that may kill the woman, the fetus is not directly attacking the woman.

I don’t know why the Church sees fit to judge it this way. Since the physiological impact of the pregnancy is what is directly causing threat to the woman’s life, I don’t know what the rationale is that they determine the pregnancy can’t be ended, because then the fetus would be impacted as secondary (as in the case of removing a fallopian tube in an ectopic pregnancy), but that’s what the Church teaches.

According to the article, it was an emergent situation, which by definition, doesn’t give one the time to shop around for options. According to the article, both couldn’t be saved in this situation, and it was made clear that the woman would not have survived to bring the fetus to 20 weeks. We will probably never know the details of what is really going on, but as the case is presented, she was in immediate danger. And she was probably scared out of her mind.

And I think the nature of this situation indicates that there was more likely a lack in judgement on the part of Sister, rather than an open defiance. And maybe a bit of empathy and charity, to the point of getting herself in trouble. And this happens in the emergency room, in triage, in other trauma situations: lots of times a quick decision is made in a life-or-death situation, and it’s not easy. It’s not that clear cut when you are responsible for someone else’s life. The woman wanted the treatment, the doctor made the call, and the final decision as up to Sister, and in that moment, that’s how she called it.


The correct Catholic procedure would have been to induce labor (or C-Section) and provide the now born fetus with all possible care.

The child certainly would have all likelihood of dying, but it was just as entitled to medical care as the mother was.

The nun was in SERIOUS error on this.

The fetus was 11 weeks old and would have certainly died outside the womb no matter what interventions would have been done. Inducing labor was imposible in this case anyway because the woman would not have survived it. It’s questionable as to whether she would have survived a C-section either, I’m thinking no. The fetus would have died anyway, in either case, as it was only 11 weeks old. No medical intervention would have brought it to term. The age of viability for a fetus is 20 weeks.

Unfortunately, yes, Sister made a serious error in the eyes of the Church.

Click Here: 3 words from Father Corapi: Learn your Faith!

“The Catholic Church, however, is not confused about what she believes,” he said.

Like Abraham Lincoln (not a Catholic, but he got it) said, “All men are created equal.”

God Bless.
+Peace In Christ.
Love, Dawn

[quote="Brendan, post:17, topic:198538"]

The correct Catholic procedure would have been to induce labor (or C-Section) and provide the now born fetus with all possible care.

The child certainly would have all likelihood of dying, but it was just as entitled to medical care as the mother was.

The nun was in SERIOUS error on this.


This would have been as much a Mortal Sin, as that which the nun was involved in.

You are wrong. As far as Catholic Teaching is concerned.

God Bless.
+Peace In Christ.
Love, Dawn

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