This month's issue of Ethics & Medics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia has an article from one Dr. Susan Marie Meidl at the Hannibal Clinic in Hannibal, Missouri, entitled, "EIFWAIL and Psychological Distress."
Dr. Meidl looked through the literature to find what she could that would support the theory that inducing labor early in cases where the child in utero has fatal anomalies (such as anencephaly) will relieve the psychological pressure that is on the mother. This theory is what operates in hospitals like Providence Alaska, as I documented back in March of 2004. However, Dr. Meidl found no support for that theory. "Surprisingly," she writes, "the assertion that EIFWAIL relieves maternal emotional suffering is not supported in the medical literature."
Dr. Meidl then cites seven studies on the subject from distinguished journals like the British Medical Journal and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Here's her straightforward conclusion: "In sum, the above studies did not show a psychological benefit or reduction of grief in women who chose pregnancy termination compared with those who suffered [the] stillbirth or perinatal death of their infant."
Any questions? How about what should be done? Good question! And here's the good doctor's answer:
"Perinatal hospice has been presented as an alternative to EIFWAIL...Infants with abnormalities incompatible with postnatal life should receive appropriate palliative care, and their mothers should receive medical, psychological, and other supportive care. Perinatal care should allow parents and children to bond and should facilitate a normal grieving process." In other words, perinatal hospice along the lines of what Dr. Byron Calhoun has established.
I don't think it could be any clearer. Any Catholic hospital that still engages in such a heinous practice with such deceptive pablum as doing it for the mother's "psychological health" should be stripped of its Catholic identity and revealed for what it is -- a murdering facility. And any bishop who does not censure such a place and order it to cease and desist such a practice is in league with it.