Choosing Unviable Fetuses Over Women

Flickr / Lars Plougmann

This is awful:

PHOENIX (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center — recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices — violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “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.”

St. Joseph’s does not receive direct funding from the church, but in addition to losing its Catholic endorsement, the 697-bed hospital will no longer be able to celebrate Mass and must remove the Blessed Sacrament from its chapel.

In a statement, St. Joseph’s President Linda Hunt said the hospital will comply with Olmsted’s decision, but she defended its actions.

“If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” Hunt said. “Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

The woman is in her 20s had a history of abnormally high blood pressure when she learned of her pregnancy. After she was admitted to the hospital with worsening symptoms, doctors determined her risk of death was nearly 100 percent.

I said it on Twitter, but I’ll say it again: an 11-week fetus does not have “equal dignity” with a dying woman. The Church’s representatives can call it a “baby” all they want, but an 11-week-old fetus is not remotely viable, and it’s not a baby (there’s a reason why many people wait at least 12 weeks to announce pregnancy). But you know what is viable? The woman whose life was saved — she is a human being who can go on to do much more good in the world than she would have if both she and the fetus had died, which is what would have happened.

I will never understand how believing a woman should die alongside an untenable pregnancy, when she doesn’t have to, is anything other than misogyny.

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Filed under Sexism, Women

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