Dr. Gerard M. Nadal goes over the medical and ethical aspects of the abortion approved by Sister McBride at St. Joseph’s Hospital which in part led to Bishop Olmsted disallowing the use of Catholic for this hospital.
Supporters of Sister McBride have been trying to obfuscate the issue by saying the abortion was allowable under double-effect. Though you also certainly get the idea that her supporters are favorable to abortion in pretty much all circumstances.
In essence the principle states that a lifesaving procedure that cannot be delayed, such as the removal of a cancerous uterus before the baby can be taken in a Cesarean section at viability (~25 weeks gestation), is permissible so long as the death of the baby is the indirect and unintended effect. The life-saving treatment and resolution of a disease with immediate lethal consequence if no treatment is rendered is the good effect. The unintended death of the baby is the bad, or second (double) effect.
Such circumstances are extremely rare, given how early a baby can be delivered before full term at 40 weeks. The mother’s life must be in immediate danger and the treatment of her disease, which would also result in the death of the baby, cannot be forestalled. The case at Saint Joseph’s did not rise to the level of Double-Effect, as the baby was the sole target of intervention.
It does not take a Doctorate in Theology to know that you can never do a direct evil to justify some apparent good. His next paragraph really surprised me, with my emphasis.
While the assessment on the part of physicians was dire, no treatment of the disease was even attempted. There are several medications that can be employed to attempt a reduction in the severity of the disease, none of which appear to have been dispensed in this case. From that point on, the actions of the hospital and Sister McBride pointed toward more than an isolated and extreme case where the decision to abort could have been simply dismissed as one bad judgment call.
The other argument supporters of this action have taken is that to be pro-life means to save the mother. That no attempt was made to to reduce the severity of her Pulmonary hypertension is rather shocking – though not as shocking as the resulting abortion. True Catholic medicine would take a both/and approach to try to save both the mother and the child. Putting the mother versus the child is pure evil.
Sister McBride did not even resort to a wink-wink of telling the parents to go to another hospital for the abortion. She was set on St. Joseph’s hospital doing it. That recommendation would also have been an evil act, it just demonstrates the mindset behind this decision. It was not the case of a Sister making a difficult decision, but of a Catholic Religious with a Culture of Death agenda.
There are several hospitals within a three-mile radius of Saint Joseph’s, some mere blocks away, where this woman’s husband could have taken her for the recommended abortion. They were no more than ten minutes from any number of facilities that would have performed the abortion, if that was what the couple wanted. All reports of the incident indicate that at no point was the couple told that Saint Joseph’s does not target babies for death as a means of treating a disease. Again, no evidence has surfaced that the physicians attempted to treat her medically.
I would recommend you read all of Dr. Nadal’s post along with subscribing to his fine blog if you don’t already do so.