The Fetal Euthanasians of St. Joseph’s Hospital

An excellent summary of what is going on in London…

The moral problem with “early inductions” at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital.

Concluding Paragraph:

“…It is scandalous that the Canadian bishops, in particular the bishop of London, Ronald Fabbro, have done nothing to stop this.  Bishop Fabbro launched an investigation in March, eight months ago, but nothing has happened.  The fact that he launched this investigation after pro-lifers started raising a stink tells me two things:  1) there is likely something wrong about these practices;  2) pro-lifers can make a difference when they take action against injustice.

Actually, Steve, I think that the Vatican has already responded.  I just think the ecclesiastical authorties haven’t released the answer because it will overturn the applecart, and lots of humble pie will have to be eaten.

We know what the answer is going to be.  Catholic Morality 101 already tells us.  And it’s not going to change.

My suspicion is that we will never get an official answer from the Diocese of London.  They’re just hoping the whole thing blows over.  But it’s not going to blow over. The blogosphere is not going to let this go until St. Joseph’s either conforms to Catholic morality or stops pretending to be a Catholic hospital.

It’s time to get on with it or get off the pot.

6 thoughts on “The Fetal Euthanasians of St. Joseph’s Hospital

  1. Pacheco: Not to be repetitive, but what you are calling for HAS been done. All of the documentation has been put together and is as we speak going through the final stages of awaiting the Vatican response. If you would just speak with Fr. Prieur, (as I have done and as you were encouraged to do by Michael Brandon) then you would learn the same.

    If the Vatican overturns the policy – then it will end. If the Vatican approves, then it will continue. I do point out to you that this question has in fact been answered for the Anchorage diocese in Alaska, which follows the same policy as they do in London and they have already received confirmation from the Holy See that they are NOT in violation of Church teaching. London expects to receive a similar affirmation.

    So the question becomes, we know how London (and Fr. Prieur) will act if they are told to stop… they will. How will you respond if the Holy See demonstrates that it is you who are in error?

    Fr. Tim Moyle
    Diocese of Pembroke

  2. Hi Father,

    I’d like to see some documentation please. The devil is in the details.

    But as far as your question to me regarding submission, I will of course submit to Rome’s decision.

  3. 49. For a proportionate reason, labor may be induced after the fetus is viable.

    U.S. Bishops Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services

    Hence, it is clear that before “viability,” it is never permitted to terminate the gestation of an anencephalic child as the means of avoiding psychological or physical risks to the mother. Nor is such termination permitted after “viability” if early delivery endangers the child’s life due to complications of prematurity. In such cases, it cannot reasonably be maintained that such a termination is simply a side effect of the treatment of a pathology of the mother.

    Anencephaly is not a pathology of the mother, but of the child, and terminating her pregnancy cannot be a treatment of a pathology she does not have. Only if the complications of the pregnancy result in a life-threatening pathology of the mother may the treatment of this pathology be permitted, even at a risk to the child, and then, only if the child’s death is not a means to treating the mother.

    The fact that the life of a child suffering from anencephaly will probably be brief cannot excuse directly causing death before “viability” or gravely endangering the child’s life after “viability” as a result of complications of prematurity.

    Moral Principles Concerning Infants with Anencephaly , Committee on Doctrine, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1998

    4. Hospital faces fight with Right to Life
    It was at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where early induction of fetuses with abnormalities incompatible with life (EIFWAIL) was first revealed to be practiced last April and where the most public controversy has been.

    Acting on an anonymous tip that the procedure was being performed at Providence, Alaska Right to Life president Ed Wassell confronted the hospital’s administrator, Al Parrish, who confirmed the rumor. Dissatisfied after two discussions, Right to Life asked Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage to intervene and bring the practice to an end.

    Archbishop Schwietz asked Providence last August to suspend the practice until he could review the protocols under which EIFWAIL was being used.

    “When I did receive the guidelines and read through them, it seemed to me that they were in keeping with the [U.S. bishops “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services”] and that the system was seriously considering each case through their ethics committees in the light of the Ethical and Religious Directives,” he told Our Sunday Visitor. “That is when I told the Providence Alaska Medical System that, in my estimation, they were indeed following the Ethical and Religious Directives and could proceed.”

    Right to Life was not happy with that decision and picketed the hospital on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court abortion decision in Roe vs. Wade. An internal memo obtained by OSV told Providence employees about the protest and sought to explain why it was being held:

    “We do perform a procedure called early induction, which we believe they [Alaska Right to Life] are inaccurately comparing to late-term abortions.

    “Early induction is a medical procedure available to women who are experiencing life-threatening complications to themselves or their fetus during pregnancy. This is a procedure performed in many Catholic hospitals. These are tragic, grief-filled and difficult decisions that are made between a physician and a family based on medical necessity. [Providence Alaska Medical Center] does have an ethics review team that evaluates each early induction case on its merits and whether the procedure remains within Catholic ethical and religious directives. It is important to note that this is a procedure that is performed infrequently, at most, five times a year . . . .

    “We are comfortable in our position, and disagree with their interpretation of our procedure and our intent in providing it as a medical option for mothers experiencing life-threatening complications. We will not be discontinuing the procedure because of their actions.”

    Providence remains sure of its position.

    “We are awaiting final review from the archdiocese of the language for our internal guidelines and protocols for early induction procedures at Providence Alaska Medical Center,” the hospital said a statement released to OSV. “However, the archbishop has publicly expressed his confidence that our practice here follows Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives.”

    The Anchorage archdiocese has retained the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) to help draft new protocols for Providence Alaska.

    While not commenting on the specifics of the protocols, Conventual Franciscan Father Germain Kopaczynski said the NCBC staff struggled to draft norms that “do justice to all involved,” especially the child, the mother and Christ’s laws.

    “We’re fighting for words,” he said, “and when you’re doing that, you’re fighting for the Word.”

    Two of the most contentious words are “proportionate” and “viability.” Because the key directive (no. 49) is so brief, it is open to wide interpretation, he said.

    “Viability” has been defined at Providence as 23 weeks gestation. But while “a healthy child might make it” at that age with aggressive intervention, “a disabled one won’t,” said Father Kopaczynski.

    The other term, “proportionate,” is also disputed. If what is at stake “is a life for anything less than a life” anything less than the mother’s physical life “the proportion breaks down,” he commented.

  4. I have no doubt that Anchorage is still doing inductions, but that doesn’t mean that Rome approves.

    I want to see the letter from Rome. I do not accept any statement from a single bishop as definitive unless it comes from the Bishop of Rome himself.

    for obvious reasons.

  5. Michael,

    No. I won’t stop until this issue is resolved – one way or another. I caution you not to allow your personal relationship with Fr. Prieur to influence your opinion of the facts on the matter.

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