Why the Church needs more like Sister Margaret McBride - The Excommunicated Nun

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Bells, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. Bells Staff Member

    Sister Margaret McBride was a nun and she was also an administrator at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix Arizona. Her role also involved serving on the Ethics Board of the hospital, along with doctors and other personnel.

    In 2008, a young woman, a mother of 4, and 11 weeks pregnant, presented at the Catholic Hospital adminstered by Sister McBride, suffering from the life threatening condition of pulmonary hypertension. It would seem that her heart and lungs could not cope with the pregnancy and she was at risk of dying if the pregnancy were allowed to continue. After consulting with the doctors and the devastated family, Sister McBride gave permission for the procedure, which ultimately saved the young mother's life.

    Now, one would think that this was a fairly straight forward decision. Sister McBride consulted the medical staff involved in her case, the mother and her family and the Ethics Board, who all agreed that her only chance at survival was to have the abortion. In short, Sister McBride made the only logical decision based on the medical evidence and the wishes of the mother, her family and the doctors involved.

    Unfortunately, this was not the case. The local Bishop vehemently disagreed with her decision and citing his reasons based on the teachings of the Church in a Q & A statement released by the Diocese in charge of Phoenix and who dealt with the situation, promptly ex-communicated Sister McBride and all other Catholics involved in the case who approved or recommended the abortion in the treatment of the mother.

    This decision has highlighted further frightening events taking place in Catholic Hospitals. It appears that the directive from 'above' is that a uterine aspiration can only take place once there is no fetal heartbeat, even in the event of risk of death or injury to the mother if the pregnancy were to continue. In other words, if the mother falls ill during the pregnancy and her only chance at survival is to terminate the pregnancy, Catholic Hospitals may not do anything for the mother, whether she is Catholic or not.

    Even more troublesome is that there have been some reports made of some Catholic Hospitals refusing to treat women who are in the process of miscarrying early on in the pregnancy, because the fetus still has a heartbeat. In other words, the woman's cervix has dialated and her membranes have ruptured, sometimes with terrifying results, but because the fetus may still have a hearbeat, doctors working in Catholic Hospitals cannot proceed with the normal treatment, which would involve a uterine aspiration.

    Aside from feeling horror at the thought of having to drive for 90 miles with the hand of my 14 week old fetus sticking out of my cervix in an obvious miscarriage, due to the hospital's refusal to take the case based on religious grounds, one has to ask how such a thing can be occuring in any country, let alone in the US?

    As Angela Bonavoglia asks in her report:

    The hospital wrote a letter to Bishop Olmsted:

    However, based on Q & A statement from the Diocese of Phoenix, I don't know whether they will like the answer. The more important question should be whether the Church should impose itself on standard medical practice to such an extent, especially when it is to the detriment of patients? What should have priority? The Church's religious teachings or medical necessity in life and death situations?

    As the cases that have been reported have shown, there is a dire need for more Sister McBride's in Catholic hospitals. As Angela Bonavoglia comments, because there aren't more like her, women in particular, and their families, need to make sure she's taken to the right hospital. And her life could very well depend on it and she is pregnant and needs an abortion to save her life:

    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
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  3. Pit JAADD Registered Senior Member

    I am so cut on abortion. But I have to agree with the nun's actions. I think it should at least be legal for cases of rape and possible health hazards or death for the mother or child.
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  5. Bells Staff Member

    Oh it is legal. Very much so.

    However this nun was excommunicated for her actions. Or more to the point, her local Bishop and her Diocese have stated that she excommunicated herself when she made the decision to allow the mother to survive by granting permission for the abortion to proceed at St. Joseph's Hospital.

    My concern is that doctors are now being made to take unethical and dangerous risks with patients lives, based on the religious objectives of the Catholic Church who owns the hospitals they work in. So which ideal should the doctors and nurses be following? Which oath? Their own? Or the religious objectives of the administrators of the hospitals? Is it ethical for Catholic administered hospitals to do this or to force their doctors into positions where they are possibly betraying their oath?

    Should female patients in the middle of a miscarriage or who are going to die without an abortion be able to go to any hospital in the US (or any other country) for help and not be rejected because the local Bishop may not approve of the abortion or D & C in a miscarriage if the fetus still has a heartbeat, even though the membranes have ruptured and the cervix partially dialated, sometimes with parts of the fetus starting to come out..? I think the answer should be yes. Women should be able to walk or be wheeled into any hospital for the treatment they need at such times.
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  7. Pit JAADD Registered Senior Member

    You'd be surprised how many people don't get the care they need because they have the wrong insurance. This is no different, but both are wrong.
    On another note, should a mother have to have an abortion if she will die without it, even if she does not wont it, for whatever reason? I think that would fall under the hippocratic oath, right?
  8. Bells Staff Member

    She shouldn't be made to have one, no. If she doesn't want one, then she shouldn't be made to have it.

    And some women bravely decide not to have one.

    But denying her that right, when her life is at extreme risk? No.

    This nun did the right thing.

    What I find most disturbing is that some hospitals are refusing to even provide care for women who are miscarrying and bleeding, care that would involve a D & C straight away, because the fetus still has a heart beat, even though it's in the first trimester and there is no chance it will survive as it is a miscarriage. I find that appalling. Dumping miscarriage patients so they can get the emergency care they need and doctors having to do it in secret as they can get fired or excommunicated if they facilitate the D & C of a first trimester miscarriage while there is still a heartbeat.. That's just wrong. It puts the mothers life at risk during a miscarriage becaus the doctors can't do what is medically necessary for her due to the rules of the church.

    There is something so fundamentally wrong in that. That the doctors at these hospitals aren't able to treat their patients as they are required to, because of the beliefs of the Church and they are threatened with excommunication.
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    I hope this hospital doesn't get any federal funding. Anyway, the church has every right to set up it's own rules and kick people out of their clubhouse if they so wish. Also, this nun obviously made the right decision. And being Catholic itself isn't ethical.
  10. Bells Staff Member

    They have the right to make their own rules..

    But how ethical are those rules? How ethical and Christian is it to force doctors to not treat a patient, because the only treatment available to her that will save her life is an abortion?

    Apparently the sanctity of the mother's life is not important.

    I am still trying to wrap my brain around the very idea of a miscarriage in the first trimester and a limb from the baby has come out and because its heart it still beating, the hospital refuses her the D & C she needs to have. That just blows my mind to be honest. First trimester.. the membrane has ruptured and its limbs are coming out?.. There's no way the fetus can be saved. It's a miscarriage. And she would be in absolute agony. I still can't believe that. Or a woman who is hemorrhaging and has already gone septic.. refusing to do a D & C on her because of the Churche's rules that the heart has to have stopped first.. It angers me to be honest.

    And the scary thing is that the Church is buying up public hospitals or putting itself into the administrators positions of so many hospitals in the West. It is disturbing as it is terrifying that this kind of thing can become common place.

    That nun? They need more like her in their hospitals.
  11. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    The Catholic Church isn't driven by ethics, it's driven by religion. They are not allowed to make such personal judgements. Of course, I don't think they have any place running hospitals with that track record, but perhaps a case can be made that having any hospital is better than no hospital.
  12. Bells Staff Member

    It disturbs me that they are so many Catholic run hospitals and these horror stories can happen again.

    If they administer hopsitals in that they manage it only, they should not impose their beliefs to this extent.
  13. Lori_7 Go to church? I am the church! Registered Senior Member

    the question is why are we looking for catholics to do anything rational or reasonable? i mean, they don't excommunicate pedophiles, but then again, those actions don't result in pregnancy.

    because those pedophiles are normally men who assault boys.
  14. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, I agree. The Catholic Church needs more such fine folk as the sister.
  15. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    i agree bells, the church should be forced to make a choice, either close all their hospitals or put all clinical decisions under the Health care workers control with no church oversite.
  16. Bells Staff Member

    When it comes to risking the lives of other people? Yes. They shouldn't be inflincting their beliefs upon the doctors and nurses sworn to treat them. When someone has gone septic and bleeding and they refuse to treat her because the child she is in the middle of miscarrying still has a faint heartbeat? That should not be acceptable.

    In this one case, a nun was excommunicated for basically giving permission to save the mother's life. The Q & A from the Diocese of Phoenix is a shocking read when you put it into perspective.. when you place it with the events that led to the excommunication. It is actually quite nauseating. I ask myself how many priests that have abused and assaulted children have been excommunicated?.. Yet this nun gets excommunicated for acting to save a person's life.
  17. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    But wait a second-- I read that Catholic hospitals only make up about 12% of all community based hospitals.

    There are thousands of hospitals in this country-- doctors or nurses could work in any one of them. These doctors had to sign some affidavit, thereby knowing exactly what the hospital's policy was.

    Why should she or anyone be either admired or rewarded for breaching policy? Wouldn't that be parallel to rewarding a stripper not stripping?

    What I mean is, a stripper knows what's expected of her. She's a willing agent who can work anywhere that she wishes, and so long as she does is beholden to her employer.

    Should she be shocked that we ask she pluck off her thong?

    Same with Sister McBride-- a Catholic nun knows what is expected of her. If so, why would she ever work in a Catholic hospital, a minority, when there are thousands others to work in?

    I love animals and would throttle anyone that would harm them--- it wouldn't make sense for me to work on a farm or the butcher's.

    There really aren't-- they're a small, teeny minority:

    "Most of the physicians reporting conflicts worked in Catholic hospitals, which account for 12.5% of all U.S. community-based hospitals and 15.5% of hospital admissions, according to the Catholic Health Assn. of the United States".

    That said- seen this?

    She actually dies in the waiting room.

    People get shit care in this country, indiscrminate of who's running what, really. Its not hard to avoid Catholics--- steer away from the St. Vincents, St. John's , St. Paul's, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center downtown.

    You can pretty much get an abortion anywhere, no?
  18. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. The only problem would be patients who are brought in by the emergency medical services.
    I am not sure how this is regulated on a state/country basis, though.

    For example, if there is a car accident, someone calls the general number for help (like 911 in the US), the paramedics that come to rescue are taking the injured to what hospital?
  20. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    So I just quicky-Wiked how many cities are in the county I live in and lost count, oh somewhere around 75.

    I don't suppose a city's and actual city without a bank or a hospital, so its safe to assume pretty much every city has a hospital.

    So, say all Americans--not just women-- were taught to tell paramedics not only their blood type or allergies but also demand not to be taken to a Catholic hospital then is this not a kind of solution?

    Say the guy has the nerve to be unconscious as well-- well....neck's killing me. You think.
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    In some states and countries, the police, the firefighters and the paramedics are run by the city/state and are independent of religious institutions. As such, they provide protection, help or treatment in accordance with the state law.
  22. Bells Staff Member

    How many do they administer though?

    It is easy to say that women can simply avoid any hospital named St Whatchumacallit. But when you consider the scope with which the Church itself has extended into the public health system in the US and elsewhere, it might not be so easy. Going to the local community hospital that one assumed is a public facility can result in your being sent to another facility because the fetus you are miscarrying may still have a heart beat.

    And that was in 2001.

    An interesting point. The problem arises when women go to a hospital, not realising that the administrators are Catholic, in that the hospital is now administered by the Catholic Church. The hospital is still a public hospital and to their knowledge, secular. They get there and are denied the treatment they need or request because it goes against the administrator's beliefs. This Catholic nun did what was expected of her. She put the patient's needs before that of the Church. So did the doctors who treated her. Abortion in the Catholic Church is prohibited unless the mother's life is at risk. That is the word from the Vatican. So why was she ex-communicated? Here is the concern about the growth in Catholic administered public hospitals:

    Case in point the woman who had to drive for 90 miles to find a hospital who could treat her with the arm of her miscarried fetus sticking out of her cervix. Many women don't have anywhere else to go.

    Can you?

    I'd suggest you look up all the hospitals in your state and then find out who administers each one. Especially the public ones. You'd be surprised at how many are administered by organisations that are affiliated with the Catholic Church. And usually within a year or two of that 'merger' reproductive health services will stop being available in that hospital. The hospital is not Catholic. But it is administered by the Catholic Church.
  23. CopterNadle Banned Banned

    agreed on your post Bells...

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