To the Editor:
You believe that only non-Catholic-supported Hospitals should give
life-saving emergency abortions to women .
First, you are assuming that there are such Hospitals nearby. Do you
believe that the ambulance taking a woman who is in critical condition,
like that 27 year old Phoenix, Arizona, woman who would have died had she
not obtained an abortion right away, would waste precious time risking
her life by driving further away to such a hospital? Does it not make sense
that with 15% of Hospitals in the country being Catholic-supported, there
may not have been such a hospital in that area or at least not within
Again, you are giving more importance to a religious dogma than to saving
women’s lives. St. Joseph’s Hospital realized that saving women’s lives
is more important than adhering to a religious dogma and watching them die
along with their fetuses. If St. Joseph’s and other Catholic-supported
Hospitals were to refuse this life-saving procedure to women and told them
to go to a non-Catholic Hospital further away and the women died before
reaching it, would that not constitute murder?
Health Care is gender specific. This means that women need the health care
that is required by the fact that they unlike men, are born with
reproductive organs. Women’s lives are very much affected by those
especially when they become pregnant. That is why abortions are part and
parcel of women’s Health Care and denying them that is discriminating
against them while denying them their gender specific Health Care. Making
contraceptives illegal and unavailable and then banning abortions, forces
women to become pregnant and carry to term against their will or welbeing.
That boils down to government control and intrusiveness in a Democratic
country where all people are supposed to have constitutional rights.The
unborn are not the only ones that have personhood, feel pain and need to be
protected. Women and girls are the most physically and mentally abused
beings on earth in developing countries. Depriving women of their gender
specific Health Care is cruel. What is our excuse for doing that to our
women? Let us give them the priority that in the eyes of pro-lifers they
have lost by being born. Women should not be turned into the victims of
Sincerely, Liliane Stern
Dear Ms. Stern,
You have brought up a number of important questions and comments. While I cannot offer the best possible response from a Catholic perspective, I want to offer you at least a reasonable reply. As a female Catholic, I find it very frustrating that our Church’s teachings are so misunderstood and misrepresented in the secular media. Many people have a mistaken notion of the Church’s teachings, as a result of misinformation.
You write, “You believe that only non-Catholic-supported Hospitals should give life-saving emergency abortions to women.” We would not agree with this statement for several reasons. First, we do not believe that abortions are ever life saving. Secondly, we do not believe that any hospitals or anyone should give abortions for any reasons.
Nevertheless, you mention “life-saving emergency.” There are certain very rare situations, such as ectopic pregnancies or when the mother has cancer of the uterus, in which carrying a baby to term and delivering it could present a serious risk to the life of the mother. In such circumstances, we believe that the mother and the health-care providers should do everything in their power to save the lives of both the mother and the child. In the case of ectopic pregnancy, in order to save the mother’s life it may be necessary to remove the fallopian tube, but to do so would cause the child to die. In such a circumstance, the intention is always to save life, not to end it.
A situation such as this is referred to as the “principle of double effect.” You can read more about it in this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_double_effect. Catholics believe that we should always act that good might come of it. In other words, we do not believe that the end justifies the means.
And what about you? Do you condone doing evil to others if you believe that some perceived good of your own might come of it? For people who believe and act in this way, how do they determine what evil is tolerable, and for what good? Do you see any danger in this?
You bring up the question of what is more important, religious dogma or saving lives? Legitimate religious dogma is both spiritually and physically life preserving. For a practicing Christian, spiritual life is eternal and therefore more important than this earthly life. The person who sins by failing to love and obey God or neighbor suffers a spiritual death.
For example, that is why it was a serious sin for Christians to remain silent out of fear, and not defend innocent Jews being rounded up by the Nazis. By failing to risk their earthly lives in order to defend their neighbors’ lives, they jeopardized their immortal souls. This is why Pope John Paul II offered an apology to Jews for the sin of omission on the part of weak, fearful Catholics who failed to make a serious effort to rescue their neighbors. So not only do we respect innocent life in the womb, we recognize our obligation to defend all human life.
Banning contraceptives, you suggest, presents health risks to women. Sadly, the pharmaceutical companies don’t want people to know about the extremely serious health risks of contraceptives. Contraception is one of the most deceptive and vicious attacks on women because the pill supposedly “protects” women, but in reality, it only exposes them to very serious health risks. You can read about some of the risks here, at the Illinois Right to Life page: http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org/2002_1_ContraceptiveHealthRisks.htm You will not find much information about these risks to women in the mainstream media in which women are degraded and treated merely as sex objects, and where the powerful pharmaceutical companies prevent the truth being reported.
You say that making contraceptives illegal and banning abortion forces women to become pregnant. Really? There’s actually something else required for a woman to become pregnant, isn’t there? Abstinence is is the most effective and safe method of preventing pregnancy.
As a pro-life woman, I believe that women share with men in the dignity of having been created in the image and likeness of God. In the second story of creation in the book of Genesis, the woman is the “crown of creation.” Women also have a certain spiritual wisdom that derives from their life-giving and nurturing roles. As a person sharing in this dignity, you deserve to know the truth, but knowing and living in accordance with the truth often entails a sacrifice, just as all worthy things come with a price.
Ultimately, we understand the truths of our Church’s teachings, which can be paradoxical, only through living them. To outsiders who do not try to conform their lives to the teachings, they only appear as contradictory and burdensome. However, since they are the truth, I can give you an assurance that if you choose to live in accordance with these teachings, you will find happiness and peace.
A Member of the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic