Over the course of the last two days, I have received two separate e-mails from pro-life friends who are aghast at what they have been reading.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure is providing its web site visitors with an open letter written by its chief scientific advisor and an opinion piece authored by two Catholic ethicists.
The open letter, signed by Eric Winer, M.D., provides the following interesting information:
This year, as in the past, Susan G. Komen for the Cure® is being criticized by some for funding a handful of women's health programs run by, or with ties to, Planned Parenthood. I'm writing this letter to explain our position and to correct any misinformation you may have heard about this issue…
And while Komen Affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood.
The letter goes on to say that two Catholic ethicists agree that raising funds via Catholic entities for Komen activities is, in fact, morally permissible. Why?
Well, in the brochure Cooperating with Philanthropic Organizations, authored by Ron Hamel, Ph.D. and Michael Panicola, Ph.D., we are told,
If the cooperator's contribution to the wrongdoing of the principal agent is distinguishable from it and not essential to its occurrence, the cooperation is said to be "mediate," which can be morally permissible for a proportionate reason (e.g., funding educational programs related to a particular disease that have nothing to do with a PO's [philanthropic organization’s] support of human embryonic stem cell research). If a CHCO [Catholic health care organization] is involved in any level of cooperation at all with POs, it would most likely be at this level of mediate material cooperation, whether it is proximate or remote.
While I am not a moral theologian, I do know how to read and do understand that this is not the first controversial statement that Messrs. Hamel and Panicola have written. For example, on the subject of the morning-after pill being provided to rape victims by Catholic hospitals, Hamel wrote,
Sexual assault is an egregiously violent act that inflicts unspeakable trauma upon the person assaulted. This trauma is exacerbated for women, particularly those of reproductive age, who may become pregnant as a result of the assault. Catholic health care providers should offer compassionate and understanding care focused on the person's physiological, psychosocial, and spiritual well-being; collect forensic evidence for police support and possible identification of the assailant; and, when the person is a woman, provide every moral means of preventing conception from this unjust attack for which she is in no way responsible…
Measures taken to prevent conception in such cases fall outside the general prohibition against contraception because the assailant's act is a violation of justice, and any semen within the woman's body is considered a continuation of the unjust aggression against which she may licitly defend herself.
We now know, of course, that the Church has grave concerns on this subject because there is no way to detect with 100 percent certainty the presence or absence of a preborn child. Therefore, because we must always opt on the side of life, the Church would not condone the use of any chemical that could kill an innocent preborn child. In fact, this is stated quite clearly in Dignitas Personae:
23. Alongside methods of preventing pregnancy which are, properly speaking, contraceptive, that is, which prevent conception following from a sexual act, there are other technical means which act after fertilization, when the embryo is already constituted, either before or after implantation in the uterine wall. Such methods are interceptive if they interfere with the embryo before implantation and contragestative if they cause the elimination of the embryo once implanted.
In order to promote wider use of interceptive methods,  it is sometimes stated that the way in which they function is not sufficiently understood. It is true that there is not always complete knowledge of the way that different pharmaceuticals operate, but scientific studies indicate that the effect of inhibiting implantation is certainly present, even if this does not mean that such interceptives cause an abortion every time they are used, also because conception does not occur after every act of sexual intercourse. It must be noted, however, that anyone who seeks to prevent the implantation of an embryo which may possibly have been conceived and who therefore either requests or prescribes such a pharmaceutical, generally intends abortion.
The point the Vatican is making here is precisely why I am concerned about the subject of this commentary. Clearly, if the morning-after pill is given to a woman victimized by sexual assault, the reason it is being given is to assure that she will not be found to be with child later. The intention is, therefore, to stop the growing human, if in fact he or she has been created in the first place. That is wrong, not according to my opinion, but according to the Vatican document.
For this very same reason, I have to take issue with the most recent opinion issued by Hamel and Panicola and being disseminated by Komen. This same opinion is being used by Catholic parishes and schools to justify fundraisers benefitting Komen’s work on behalf of treating and curing dreaded breast cancer. If a potential cure were found, would being complicit with the nation's leading abortion proponent make these activities moral and ethical?
The theological concepts involving the various levels of "cooperation," which are noted by Hamel and Panicola in their opinion, are quite easily massaged by anyone who wants to assuage concerns that might be raised, even about subjects such as raising money for a foundation that has obvious, admitted ties with an entity like Planned Parenthood. For as Hamel and Panicola tell us in their brochure, “The good the PO [philanthropic organization] is doing (e.g., breast health for underserved women, eradicating birth defects, supporting research for debilitating illness) outweighs its promotion of the wrongdoing and/or its support of another engaged in wrongdoing."
Or to put it another way, if organization A (Komen) can make a claim of doing good and helping the bad organization B (Planned Parenthood) do some good at the same time, then all the bad the bad organization is doing can be ignored and the fundraising for organization A can continue without question. The good outweighs the evil.
If I take this argument to its logical conclusion, then one can assume that collaboration with an evil enterprise is acceptable because "cooperation" with the evil B is involved in is not direct cooperation. But isn't it?
If Komen provides, for example, a $100,000 grant to Planned Parenthood of Anytown, USA, then wouldn't it be possible for the grant to free up $100,000 of Planned Parenthood's existing funds, to provide other services? Could that mean more money for sex education, birth control for minors without parental consent or for marketing abortion to expectant mothers?
Can all the good in the world that A is doing outweigh the murder of even one preborn child – be it a one-day-old preborn or a six-month-old preborn – that B is committing?
Can we tolerate a little evil now for a promised larger good later? Should any organization hold hands with evil?
Throughout my experience with moral theologians who take pages and pages to explain something that is questionable, it has always been my opinion that a simple yes or no would be a whole lot better.
In the case of Komen and its alliances with Planned Parenthood, given my non-degree in moral theology, I say no to Komen, no to collaboration with Planned Parenthood on any level – just plain no!