Vatican Bioethics Official Disagrees with Vatican on Excommunication of Brazilian Doctors

Archibishop Rino Fisichella, a Vatician bioethics official, wrote last week against the Vatican’s support of excommunicating the Brazilian doctors who were involved with securing an abortion for a 9-year-old girl who became pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. The Catholic Church in Brazil had planned to excommunicate all of the doctors involved and the girl’s mother, according to the BBC. A senior Vatican cleric recently defended the Catholic Church of Brazil’s plans.

Fisichella wrote in the Vatican newspaper that “there are others who deserve excommunication and our forgiveness….not those who permitted you to live and who will help you to regain hope and faith.” He continued “Her life was in serious danger because of the pregnancy in progress. How to act in these cases? An arduous decision for the physician and for the moral law itself,” reported the Washington Post.

Abortion is legal in Brazil only in cases of rape or when the mother’s life would be endangered. Both conditions appear to have been true in this case. One of the girl’s doctors, Olimpio Moraes, told Reuters that “as doctors, we could not allow a girl of 9 to suffer like this or until she paid with her own life.”

The Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao also told Reuters “I believe the position of the church is extreme, radical, and inadequate….I am shocked by the radical position of this religion which, wrongly saying it is defending a life, puts another life in danger that is as important as any other.”


Feminist Daily Newswire 3/6/09, 3/10/09; Reuters 3/5/09; The Washington Post 3/21/09; BBC 3/5/09

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