On The “Let Women Die Act” and The Catholic Bishops   Leave a comment


Upon reading a recent AlterNet.Org news article concerning the “hypocrisy” of Catholic Bishops who on one hand cover-up the moral failures of their diocese on one hand and yet attack the Pro-Choice position when it comes to a recent piece of legislation that has been called — The “Let Women Die Act.” However, I have written this commentary to discuss the issue in a more fair and balanced way, and to clarify certain points that this AlterNet.Org article fails to do. It should be fair to point out that I am a Pro-Life Libertarian and as such I do speak from the position that Life is Sacred as such it ought to be protected and valued, this position I only recently begun to hold, because when I was younger and immature I believed otherwise. I will be writing about the issue of Abortion in more depth in the future of this blog as well.

The Article

The article begins by saying that,

“The New Bill [H.R. 358] (which the president has vowed to veto) would essentially obliterate abortion coverage by both public and private insurers, and most egregiously get hospitals off the hook for refusing to perform abortions for women whose lives are in immediate danger. It would literally allow hospitals to let women die with impunity.”

To this charge, I looked into H.R. 358 and found out that some of what the author writes is true, but I would like to point out that the summary of the bill reads that this bill, “Amends the new health care law so that no federal money could be applied to health insurance plans that cover elective abortions, even if the abortion coverage is paid for entirely with private funds.” This is not denying the right to finance an abortion, so much as it is that the public will not pay for one. However, the summary does read that the bill would, “not force a health care provider that accepts Medicare or Medicaid to provide abortion services, even in cases when the mother’s life is endangered.” Nonetheless, lets break this claim down anyway, it is my belief that abortion coverage should – if it must be at all – be funded privately, not publicly. If we are such a free country, then we should be free enough to determine where our money is going to be spent and used, no one has the right extract my income from me to be put into something that I would otherwise find abhorrent and disagree with. This should be true of all things in my book however, I am not saying this simply because of the abortion issue.

The article does go on to talk about a case of an emergency situation of a young woman who was pregnant and was sent to a Catholic Hospital,

“The hospital officials knew that church doctrine would have them let both mother and child die. But they searched for an exception and thought they found one: ‘Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval’ for a lifesaving abortion. The woman survived, but the nun was excommunicated. A nun who saved a woman’s life was excommunicated.”

What irks me here the most is the authors complete ignorance of Catholic Teaching on such an issue, but also the failure of the Ex-communicants to forgive the actions of the one they are Excommunicating. In Catholic Teaching there is an exception to the rule, called the Double Effect and it is most cited in cases just like these. The Double Effect essentially states that, “it is morally allowable to perform an action that has a bad effect only under the following conditions.” Those conditions entail 4 Criteria and all 4 Criteria MUST be met: (1) The action to be performed must be good in itself, or at least indifferent. (2) The evil effect must not be directly intended for itself but only permitted to happen as an accidental by-product of the act performed. (3) The good intended must not be obtained by means of the evil effects. (4) There must be a reasonably grave reason for permitting the evil effect.

Ultimately, this Double Effect is something that only the expectant Mother and those she shares her most intimate thoughts with would know truly if these criteria are indeed being met. This is something that is brought to bare on her conscience it would be something emerging from her own heart. Such an issue is truly between her and God. It should be pointed out however that in some circumstances the mother gives birth to child and then surrenders her own life in the process, I bring this up not because I think that is the best way to go, but it certainly is a courageous act.

The article goes on to attack the Council of Catholic Bishops in an Ad Hominem manner by stating that,

“This momentum for misogyny has been painted as having mostly arisen from the Tea Party and the extremist evangelical megachurch Pat Robertson types. But these anti-choice forces are not alone, and they are not solely responsible: rather the (all-male, it should go without saying) Council of Catholic Bishops has aggressively, relentlessly, and successfully lobbied for many of the worst of the measures in the ‘War on Women.'”

First of all, The Catholic Church is not committed to a war against a gender, if they were there would be no woman who actually defended the dignity of life, but since there are women who know the dignity of life this war is about something more! I can only speak for Catholics because I am a Catholic, I will not speak for fundamentalists nor Tea Partier’s. The Catholic Church is not so much fighting an offensive war against women as it is a defensive war for the life inside the expectant mothers womb. Further investigation will need to be stated, and I intend to write about the Feminine element in the Catholic Church, so as to further show that Catholics are not women-haters or repressers.

Second of all, The Catholic Church espouses a lifestyle in which un-needed pregnancies would not occur in the first place. Many people of a socially liberal even libertine lifestyle however would view the Church’s position as Life-Denying and Uptight. However, underneath the conflict of unwanted pregnancies and abortion lies in these perspectives between the Sobriety found in Abstinence and the Drunkenness of a Sexually Licentious and addictive behaviors. What seems more life-denying is denying the unborn the right to life, then learning the ways of self-control. Now I am not a utopianist, I hold no illusions that people will fall, but the point is where are your values placed? Where are you rooted? You can only choose one. To be even more clearer, The Catholic Church unlike more fundamentalist elements, sees sexuality and the human body as a good thing, these things are not evil, bad, nor undesirable, what is undesirable is the disproportionate value that has been placed on them at the expense on everything else in ones life and an unwillingness to take responsibility for ones actions.

The author of the article also decides to attack the Church by trying to reduce all of its arguments and its history to the Sex-Abuse Scandal,

“Helping to man the artillery is a largely disgraced Catholic hierarchy… The council has done this without being questioned by the mainstream media even in the long shadow of scandal, even though much of the American Catholic hierarchy’s capacity to treat issues of sex appropriately has been thrown into serious question by the seemingly never-ending child sex-abuse travesty… So yes, bit by bit, there are beginning to be legal ramifications beyond shame for these cover-ups. But why doesn’t the stigma extend to the bishops’ lobbying efforts?”

I grant that the Church in handling this crisis has been less then satisfactory and it is to our disadvantage that we have this marked on us. However, I do not believe that the arguments the Church makes to protect life, and to limit Abortion to a few extreme circumstances should be seen as refuted because of this scandal in the largely American Catholic Church. Rightfully, any and all Clergymen who are caught in the abuse of children should be brought to justice, I feel that the Church needs to be purified and if it means losing clergymen in the name of fighting this injustice then it must be done, and by God’s Will we will have better quality clergymen to replace those who have acted in a morally reprehensible way.

To be clear, I do not want to seem like as if I am just reacting to this AlterNet.Org Article, despite its blatant Anti-Catholic tone. Ultimately, there is one thing that I see can come to a closer but certainly not equal perspective and that is found in this excerpt,

“Many of the priests implicated in sex abuse scandals — priests accused of child rape — have not been excommunicated. The church devoted time and money to the nun’s case, while sparing the priests… Nonetheless, instead of focusing on reform from within, Robert Finn’s fellow bishops seem intent on womb-policing and urging elected officials to carry on a policy of disregarding women’s lives.”

I am unaware of how many clergymen have been stripped of their title and even excommunicated from the Church for doing what they have done, but if this is true then I argue that it is merely due to the slow-to-change nature of hierarchy and any other bureaucratic organization. This does not to give the Church justification of course to runaway from “cleaning house” on those who are responsible for these crimes. Let us keep in mind that the Church is indeed composed of sinners, but to recall that the Church does possess the moral compass for an upright life. Indeed those in the institution have harmed a basic need of life: Trust. However, they have not destroyed life. The desire to want to protect the sanctity of life is what lifts the Church up in these hard times when facing the Child Sex Abuse scandal. The author of this article however, refuses to see that.


Posted November 13, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Current Events

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