The Catholic Church needs to get its priorities straight, said Michael Merritt in PoliGazette. A 9-year-old girl in Brazil was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins. So, naturally, the local archbishop’s first response was to excommunicate the girl’s mother for opting for abortion, and her doctors, who believed the girl's life was at risk, for performing the procedure. Why isn’t the church praising them all for saving the poor girl’s life?

Because of one pesky thing -- church law, said Canon lawyer Edward Peters in his blog, In the Light of the Law. The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law clearly states that “the doctors who committed the abortion” and “those who directly assisted in the deed” will be excommunicated. The girl’s age protects her from any penalty. Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda e Recife has a history of protecting “innocent human life” -- you can hardly expect him to look the other way in this case.

Please, the archbishop's "lack of compassion" is clear, said Frances Kissling in RH Reality Check, but his canonical wisdom is fuzzy. Excommunication of the sort he discussed is something that is self-administered by someone who knows he has sinned, but the people in this case did nothing immoral, so no excommunication has occurred. "For this mother and the girl's doctors no decision could have been more moral."