April 20, 2024

The other side of the Phoenix Catholic abortion case

Doctor defends bishop’s decision

A Catholic bishop in Phoenix, Arizona, has
come under fire for excommunicating a nun who authorised an abortion in a
Catholic hospital. A searing
op-ed piece in the New York Times
by columnist Nicholas Kristof denounced
the incident as a “travesty” and described the nun as “saintly”.

The hospital’s story, which Kristof
supported, is that a 27-year-old mother of four “suffered from a serious
complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability
that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.” The treatment of her
condition required the termination of the 11-week-old foetus.

Not many voices have been raised to defend
the bishop on medical grounds. Just for the record, here are remarks from a
doctor who thinks that an abortion is not an adequate treatment for pulmonary

Paul Byrne is director of neonatology and
pediatrics at St. Charles Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, and a former
president of the Catholic Medical Association. He told the National Catholic
that – based on reports in the media – the hospital should have tried
to protect both the mother and the child.

“That condition alone will not suddenly take the life
of a mother that has been pregnant for 11 weeks. Simple medical treatment, such
as bed rest and oxygen supplementation, can be very effective…

“Good medicine follows good morals. You can’t have
good medicine without good morals. Life is a gift, and doctors and nurses are
called to protect and preserve human life from conception to natural end.

acknowledging the lack of specific information regarding the Phoenix case, I
cannot recall any similar situation in which abortion was advised to treat
pulmonary hypertension. In my experience, when you think your way through a
medical problem, you come up with solutions that provide better treatment for
the mother, and these solutions allow the baby to grow large enough to survive
outside the uterus.”~ National Catholic Register, June 10

Michael Cook
Catholic Church