Culture of Life: Killing Women

Via PZ Myers, a nun in Phoenix has been excommunicated for approving an abortion for a woman suffering severe pulmonary hypertension:

“I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese,” [Bishop] 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.”

There’s a cute little rhetorical trick in there. “An unborn child is not a disease,” coming from a celibate man who is not a doctor and has his room and board covered by his employer. Put the poor helpless “unborn child” in the spotlight and distract from the fact that the pregnancy posed a serious risk of death to the woman.

The Bishop apparently believes, not so much that the doctors are lying when they say an abortion was necessary to save the woman’s life, but that the end goal of “not performing an abortion” was more important than the end goal of “not letting a woman die.” It’s not even, really, that he was concerned with protecting the fetus over saving the woman. 11 weeks is not very far into a pregnancy, and she probably would have died before the fetus developed to viability. And if the woman had died before her fetus could survive outside the womb, then the fetus would have died anyway, so the family would have lost the woman and her baby. The doctors in question were faced with the question of one death or two. Between the pregnant woman herself, her family, her doctors, and the hospital’s Ethics Committee, they decided to go with one death and one life. The Bishop seems to think that allowing the woman to die (and take her fetus with her) would have been preferable to letting her walk out of that hospital without another life growing inside her.

Because Sr. Margaret McBride agreed with her colleagues that saving one life was better than none at all, she had to be punished. This is what pro-life means: women are the means to an end. If they fail to achieve that end, they don’t need to live.