Catholic Church: Double Effect is wrong

Well, they didn’t really say that. But they effectively stated as much when they stripped an Arizona hospital of its affiliation with the church.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center — recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices — violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In fact, the woman was virtually guaranteed to die if she continued to carry the 11 week old fetus much longer. Now keep that in mind:

Double effect is the ethical principle which says something is ethical so long as it conforms to these four conditions:

1. The nature-of-the-act condition. The action must be either morally good or indifferent.
2. The means-end condition. The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect.
3. The right-intention condition. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect.
4. The proportionality condition. The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect.

This case in Arizona is textbook. The first condition is satisfied because the act was to save the mother’s life. The second condition is satisfied because the means is the removal of a physical condition, not the explicit murder of another person. The third condition is satisfied because the doctors only want to save the mother’s life, not destroy the fetus. The fourth condition is satisfied because even if the fetus is a human, the mother’s life must be equally considered.

In fact, double effect isn’t really important here because the fetus is not a human being, but I digress.

The church stripped the hospital of its status (and, really, that’s a good thing anyway) because it thinks the woman should have risked certain death (which isn’t really a risk, now is it?). We know the end result would be the death of her and her fetus. How that is considered good is a mystery.

And that raises another point, doesn’t it? What methodology, what guidelines, what anything does the Bible (or any holy book) offer in this situation? One person unfamiliar with basic, classic philosophical examples couldn’t come up with an answer. (In fact, he might say the problem here was just logistics.) It doesn’t look like the Catholic Church has an answer either.

It’s unfortunate that the hospital says it will still follow Catholic Church guidelines (not Biblical guidelines…since they do not exist), but this is an overall good incident. While I hate to see the sort of irrational arguments that say the saving of one life is really just abortion of another, it’s fantastic that the Church has severed its formal ties with an institution committed to actually helping people. I hope that whenever necessary the hospital will not hesitate to continue saving living humans.

Can I call a bigot a bigot?

Because I’m thinking about writing a letter to the editor in response to this bigot.

In a Dec. 12 column, Richard Connor criticizes Sen. John McCain for opposing repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on homosexuality and writes it “has outlived its usefulness” and that “We need to do away with it.”

To justify his position, Connor writes about “cultural and social changes” and advancing gay marriage. Political correctness run amok.

Social acceptance doesn’t necessarily make something right. Furthermore, a behavior that is socially acceptable in a civilian environment does not necessarily make it right in a military environment.

Can anyone imagine the military maintaining unisex sleeping quarters and unisex bathing facilities with group showers? I cannot.

Similarly, I cannot imagine homosexuals serving openly in the military. A barracks will house 80-plus men and have group bathrooms and showers. As I can’t image a military environment where men and women take group showers because animal instincts may surface, I cannot image the military maintaining group showers where men with a known sexual attraction for men taking group showers with men.

What I write may invite the PC police to charge me with homophobia and intolerance. In my defense, I love the relatives I have who are gay and the gays I know in business.

They know I don’t agree with their lifestyle, but to love someone does not mean you have to agree with them. True love is often tough love and means having to tell those you love the truth.

Failure to practice tough love in our families may have contributed to the growth and social acceptance of homosexuality in society. I don’t believe homosexuality is normal. I believe it is a personal choice from someone who has tasted the proverbial forbidden fruit. Society’s sexual preferences don’t justify overhauling military standards.

Harold Alexander

Augusta

I also find “dolt” to be a fair and accurate label.

Let’s do this one quickly, shall we?

  • Being gay does not mean being obsessed with sex or unable to control sexual desires. Assumptions like that is how we get those horribly bigoted comparisons of gays to pedophiles. And “animal instincts”? How sexually immature is Harold Alexander? While where evolution and taxonomy are concerned I have to agree we absolutely are animals (though I’m not so sure about the instincts part), we have the ability to be rational and critical and thoughtful.
  • Does this guy really think that gay sex in showers is going to be an issue? I don’t really see anyone trying that, much less getting away with it.
  • No, Alexander does not love the gays he knows. If he did, he wouldn’t try to make their lives worse. I’ll grant that he sorta, kinda, maybe loves them. A little.
  • Gays have loving families.
  • No one wakes up and decides one day, “Gee, I think I’m going to start liking people with the same genitalia I have. That will surely make my life better. And probably socially easier…right? Right.”
  • What justifies overhauling military standards is the exhaustive study that found that most service members are fine with the repeal of DADT. And let’s not forget the 13,500 qualified individuals who have been kicked out – only to the detriment of the effectiveness of the U.S. military.

Two quick things:

First, I find it hilarious that conservatives are still whining about the child nutrition bill that was recently passed. Some jamoke filling in for the odious Glenn Beck said on the radio today that the bill takes control from the hands of parents, apparently countering a debate point that said otherwise. He’s wrong. The bill prevents kids from being able to buy as much crap at school. This empowers good parents who give their children lunch money for the purpose of buying substantial food, not snacks and soda. The only people who are having their control restricted are kids who want to buy junk. And if any crappy parents want to fill their kids with fat, they can buy it themselves. The government is not required to provide shitty food to children. Oh, and the bill also does all these other great things:

• The bill expands eligibility for lunch programs and sets nutrition standards for school meals.

• It is the first increase in school lunch funding since 1973.

• The act will allocate an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to school meal programs, boosting the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by 6 percent. Maine would receive about $1.1 million annually.

• The number of children eligible for those school meals will increase.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture will use Medicaid data to certify students who meet income requirements, providing 115,000 new children with meals, and census data to determine schoolwide income eligibility.

• The act will allow program providers, such as day-care centers, at-risk after-school programs and emergency shelters, to be reimbursed for providing after-school meals.

• The act will allow the USDA to set nutrition standards for all school meals and require schools to make nutritional information readily available to parents.

Oh, the horror.

Second, it looks like the New START treaty with Russia is going to pass when it comes to a vote.

Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a 67-28 proxy vote to wind up the debate and hold a final tally on Wednesday. They broke ranks with the Senate’s top two Republicans and were poised to give Obama a win on his top foreign policy priority.

“We know when we’ve been beaten,” Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told reporters hours before the vote.

I’m just glad Obama doesn’t trust Russia as much as the Republicans do.

This one is really a no-brainer. In fact, as anyone who has bothered following this story knows, these treaties routinely get passed without much fuss; everyone recognizes that they are necessary and good. The only reason this one has become an issue is because Republicans either simply don’t want to give Obama any sort of victory or they want to wait until they hold power in the House and are stronger in the Senate so they can pass it and claim at least partial credit. It’s political pettiness run amok.