The Catholic Church has long held the view that abortion is immoral, and constitutes a mortal sin. There are very rarely ever exceptions to that belief, the only one being commonly accepted is in regard to terminating ectopic pregnancies. Rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother are not considered exceptions.
The fetus is claimed to have a soul of it's own upon conception. Ironically, early church teachings actually made a distinction between unformed and formed fetuses, ascribing a greater sin to the killing of a formed one. Using that logic, very early abortions were a lesser crime in the eyes of the church. Today, though, all abortions tend to be treated as one and the same by the church.
Last year in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar died because a Catholic hospital refused to perform an abortive procedure on a dying fetus that turned septic. They claimed that so long as the fetus had a heartbeat, they were bound by the church to preserve life. After the baby died, the fetus was removed, but it was too late to save her.
In 2009, an entire family and several doctors were excommunicated from the Church in Brazil for performing an abortion on a nine year old girl who had been raped by her step father. Even though the abortion was believed to have saved the life of the child, and she was impregnated with twins through a violent sexual crime, it wasn't enough in the eyes of the Church.
In 2009, a nun who sits on the ethics board at a hospital in Arizona was excommunicated and had her position stripped after she agreed that a mother of four should have an abortion to save her life. The mother had developed severe pulmonary hypertension at 11 weeks along and had a risk of death near 100% if the pregnancy continued, which would have ended the life of the baby as well. The Church didn't care, saying 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.
Though I strongly disagree with the Church's decisions in the above cases, at least they were consistent. A life was a life from the moment of conception. Now, they seem to be arguing against themselves.
In 2006, Lori Stodghill presented in the emergency room of a Catholic run hospital in Colorado. Seven months pregnant with twins, she died when a blood clot formed and lodged in her heart, triggering a massive heart attack. The obstetrician on call, also her personal physician, did not answer the page from the hospital, and the twins both died in the womb shortly after the mother.
Her husband sued both the hospital and the obstetrician for wrongful death, alleging that the refusal to answer the page by the doctor and the inaction from the emergency room staff resulted in the deaths of all three. Had they performed an emergency C-section after she died, the babies lives may have been saved even if the mother's may not have been. He sued for wrongful death of all three.
The lawyers for the hospital have spun on their heels. Where the Church has for years asserted the claim that all life begins at conception and is worthy of equal protection under the law, they are now claiming protection under state law, which currently dictates that unborn fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
Essentially, what the take away is here is that they will argue for the sanctity and protection of human life at any stage, unless they are going to be held liable for the loss of it in court. Here, they claim no responsibility for the lives of the twins.
So far, the hospital has won. Hypocrisy works.
Instead of holding the strength of their convictions, and possibly making a huge argument that unborn babies are indeed persons as they have alleged for years, they went the opposite direction and hid behind the state law that they have fought to change. They have an opportunity here to bolster their claim that all life is precious and worthy of protection, but they aren't. They're making a point for everyone who has opposed their arguments instead. Amazing how money can change the rules of the game.
The case has been appealed to the State Supreme Court.
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