Everything about this story is appalling. It’s bad enough that a poor Brazilian girl was raped repeatedly for two years by her stepfather, but the what a local archbishop did next and the Vatican’s backing of his actions is made this story gain international attention, because it’s equally appalling. When the child, now nine, became pregnant with twins, the mother finally took the child away from the step-father, and doctors performed an abortion to end the girls’ pregnancy. In retaliation, the busybody archbishop excommunicated the mother and every doctor involved in the abortion, but failed to excommunicate the step-father, because “the crime he is alleged to have committed, although deplorable, was not as bad as ending a fetus’s life.”
As I said, appalling. And I say this as someone who calls myself pro-life. The miscarriage of justice here is so apparent that I detect some reluctance to comment on this story by some more ardent pro-life quarters.
Some Catholic defenders of the decision hem and haw a bit, and try to describe excommunication as something other than the theological death sentence that it has been portrayed to be. Unfortunately, they are missing the point. So, the Brazilian archbishop stepped forward to excommunicate the child’s mother for arranging to have an abortion, as well as the doctors who carried the abortion out. Short of sending the Inquisition out to force these doctors to recant, this is the strongest condemnation that the archbishop can give. The abortion, it should be noted, was completely legal under Brazil’s strict anti-abortion laws because these laws make the exception that allows abortions to take place when the mother’s life is at risk, and the conception occurred as a result of rape. Both exceptions clearly apply given that the potential mother is a nine-year-old girl.
What would the archbishop have had the mother and the doctors do? Nothing? Allow the young girl carry the twins to term, despite the clear risk to her life, despite the clear psychological trauma that the conception represents? Was it better that the girl die so that her incestuously conceived twins could live?
In my opinion, a true pro-life stance is to cherish all life, and not to try not to place the value of one living human being over another. As much as the abortion of the twins may have been a tragedy, the archbishop’s decision has every appearance of valuing the life of the nine-year-old girl less than the twins she was forced to conceive — less even than the rapist who forced her to conceive these twins. I cannot comprehend the thinking that went into the decision to excommunicate the child’s mother or her doctors, nor can I understand those who try to defend the archbishop’s decision. Thankfully, this hardline attitude attitude is not one shared by most (if any) Catholics I know.
That this Church, which opposes the death penalty for murderers (a stance I support) is willing to allow a child to risk death rather than end her inhumane pregnancy, strikes me as a grave abomination. Failing to acknowledge that the doctors involved in the abortion were intent on saving the child’s life, failing even to condemn the rapist’s actions in equally strong terms for putting the girl’s life at risk, strikes me as an attitude that is well outside the realm of pro-life thought. It makes no logical sense, it makes no theological sense. The Catholics who defend this decision, in my view, have not only lost all connection with reality, they have lost their connection with the concept of God’s love.
It is for this reason that the Catholic church is losing touch with its rational members in this modern world, and why its relevance in daily life is diminishing by the hour.
A Quick Haiku
It’s not often that a single event spotted while driving writes itself up as a haiku, but that happened today. Here goes:
Boy in a neck brace
Riding the handlebars of his bike.