Monday, January 24, 2011

Absolutely Ridiculous

Thinking in absolutes is a dangerous habit. Trying to fit complex situations into black and white terms is next to impossible (unless you just ignore all of those pesky conflicting details), and doing so limits understanding and stifles compassion. What's really scary though is when an organization not only adheres to a strictly black-and-white worldview, but actually has the power to punish people who go against it.

Enter the Catholic Church. I'd thank them for so perfectly illustrating my point if they weren't, you know, perfectly illustrating my point. A woman is 11-weeks pregnant and experiencing serious medical complications. Without an abortion, she will almost certainly die. Now this is a painful and difficult thing for anyone to experience, but to me it seems like a no-brainer. I mean, an 11-week old fetus (which looks like this, by the way) is not the equivalent of a grown woman. Of course they save the mother. Except that she's at a Catholic hospital, which has a pretty inflexible view on the morality of abortions. One of the hospital administrators had to make a very difficult decision, but she did approve the abortion that saved the woman's life. And the Catholic Church excommunicated her for it.

Now I get that the Catholic Church is an independent organization with its own rules, and it can excommunicate anybody it damn well pleases. Not being a Catholic myself, I will also allow for the possibility that I am missing something that could make this situation somehow acceptable to anyone with a conscience. But honestly, defending the church's behavior here requires some Grade A Doublethink. This is why the 'black and white' mentality frustrates me. For the Catholic Church to be right, someone else has to be wrong. All life is sacred (as long as it's human and not, you and this woman is wicked for having an abortion. There's no compassion there. No attempt is made to understand what it must have been like for this woman to be faced with her unborn child threatening her life. No respect is given to the medical care providers, who had to either perform an abortion or let the mother die. No thought is given to the woman's husband and the four children she would have left behind. She is wicked, and the woman with enough courage to take responsibility for the decision to save her life is also wicked. Pedophilic priests aren't excommunicated, but the hospital administrator who saved a woman's life? She murdered babies and should burn in Hell.

It didn't even stop there! A few months later the hospital's Catholic affiliation was removed. Personally I think they're better off, but it's clear this is meant as a punishment. They're punishing the hospital for saving the woman's life. It's a hospital. That's what they're supposed to do, right?!?

Frankly, if you are not prepared to care for your patients in whatever way is best for them then you have no business in medicine. If you are unwilling to prescribe birth control, then you have no business being a pharmacist. If you can't put the well-being of actual people above your tired dogma, then you have no business running a hospital. St. Joseph's made a tough decision, made even more difficult by the Catholic Church and their inflexible views and punishments. But they did the right thing, and the Catholic Church has only succeeded in making a bigger ass of itself than usual.

1 comment:

  1. These Anti-choice people make me sick. When you elevate the blastocyst you demean the women. Abortions are hard enough without some patriarchal religion condemning people for saving lives.