On the BBC recently: Brazil’s President chides a Catholic Bishop for excommunicating the mother of a young girl as well as her doctors: all for contributing to the girl’s abortion of her twin fetuses.
Seem very straightforward? Before you answer, consider that:
- The young girl’s conception was due to sexual abuse by her stepfather; and
- The young girl is 9 years old.
Not so straightforward anymore? Under Brazil law, abortions are legal if done in the context of rape or potential health risks to the mother-to-be. In this case, both criteria were met for the young girl.
However, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho was undeterred and said that the excommunication would apply to the doctors who performed the operation as well as the girl’s mother. The girl would not be included because she was underage.
Meanwhile the girl’s stepfather is in police custody–also suspected to have abused the young girl’s older sister.
The Church’s stand against abortion is very clear, however the context of this situation has given a lot of Catholics mixed feelings. Many feel for the doctors especially, as they were fulfilling their professional duty to safeguard the life of the young girl.
Also a nagging moral question: the excommunication spares the step-father abuser, since he did not have anything to do with the abortion, although it was his sexual abuse of his step-daughter that led to the situation.
Brazil’s President Lula could not contain his disappointment at the whole affair, and was quoted saying:
In this case, the medical profession was more right than the Church.
Does this whole situation seem so irrational, and yet consistent with the dictates of religion?