A MORAL DILEMMA FOR KNIGHTS

The Knights` Ontario State Council passed a resolution at their 1997 state

convention stating that no monies would be given to hospitals that execute

abortions. This resolution, although receiving the convention delegates`

overall consent, did not meet

with unanimous approval. In fact, it created great controversy in some

circles in addition to some heated negative reactions directed at the State

Council`s Pro-life chairman.

Although it is easy to understand some people`s initial angry response to

such a drastic proposal that would see much-needed private funds withheld

from the exceptional life-saving work performed by those hospitals offering

abortion as a medical service, an

objective analysis of what really is at stake here seems to justify such an

uncompromising stand on the part of our Order.

One has to start with the fundamental premise that abortion is the killing

of a human being. It is, as our Holy Father has often described it, an

abomination - a crime that should rank among the most hideous in history,

because it destroys an innocent

defenseless child made in the image of its Creator. If we accept this dual

biological and spiritual argument, it becomes difficult to square it with

acceptance of abortion in a hospital context. Certainly this is the

underlying reason abortions are and should

never be allowed in Catholic hospitals.

What would be the reaction of citizens at the news that a reputable hospital

was performing infanticides by destroying newly-born babies with serious

physical and mental handicaps? Although there are revelations about an

increasing occurrence of such cases done for both eugenic and economic

reasons, I believe there still exists a sufficient level of revulsion for

such acts that hospitals known to practice them would be blacklisted by any

family-oriented organization such as the Knights of Columbus.

What if assisted suicide of the terminally ill, the sick elderly, the

accident victims in a permanent comatose state were to be accepted as acts

of compassion that are part of the patient care and treatment offered by a

hospital? Would it matter that such

deliberate acts of murder have been declared legal (a likely prospect,

considering the present public leaning towards the legalization of

doctor-assisted suicide, albeit with "strict guidelines")?

In a strictly rational context, it makes no sense to refuse on the one hand

to contribute financially to hospitals that perform procedures of

infanticide and non-voluntary euthanasia on the sick elderly - accepting

that the hospital is offering essential medical services that could suffer

from the withdrawal of one`s financial support - while, on the other hand,

implicitly saying that pre-natal infanticide is insufficient justification

to refuse giving charitable donations to these same hospitals

because it would hurt the same medical services.

This is the difficult dilemma facing those public-minded Knights in our

midst who resent the abortion activities of hospitals they are donating to

that, otherwise, are performing invaluable services for their patients.

In defense of those who would like to see charitable financial efforts of

the Knights directed entirely away from institutions performing or promoting

abortion, it can be said that the dollars contributed by charitable church

organizations like ours - which

might number in the tens of thousands - are minuscule compared to the truly

astronomical piles of money contributed by governments and also private and

corporate foundations. Realistically, their loss would contribute very

little to a significant impairment of

hospital services in general. But, what a powerful statement it could make.

The moral and ethical considerations of contributing moneys to hospitals who

commit abortions and to world humanitarian organizations like UNICEF which

actively promote family planning in the Third World through abortion and

sterilization, is one

clouded in many minds by the great benefits they can bestow on sick and

destitute people. It is one nevertheless which all of us must answer for

ourselves with full cognizance of what good or evil actions our monies (as

little as they may be) could be

contributing to.

Thaddee Renault