Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stacie Crimm: to love is to live

Yesterday, on the Feast of St. Luke, I looked at Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan in which the Lord holds up to His fellow Jews a Samaritan (of all people!) as an example of what He means when He says that in order to gain eternal life, in addition to loving God wholly, I must love my neighbor as myself. With the hope of conveying a better understanding of just how radical Jesus’ parable sounded to His listeners I suggested that in our day we might replace the Samaritan with a Muslim, or perhaps an agnostic, or atheist. So, how about an unwed mother?

In Oklahoma, forty-one year-old Stacie Crimm, who was told by doctors she could never conceive, did conceive a child out-of-wedlock, before being diagnosed with neck cancer. Knowing that chemotherapy, which was her only hope of beating the cancer, would kill her unborn child, Stacie refused the treatment in order that her daughter could live.

Stacie lived through 5 months of pregnancy and delivered Dottie Mae prematurely, via C-section. The baby weighed slightly over 2 pounds.

Dottie Mae

I realize that I have to be careful here and not unequivocally insist others "Go and do likewise" because this is an instance that presented a genuine dilemma, that is one of those rare cases that was either/or, making it one in which the principle of double effect, which holds that under certain circumstances it is alright to cause harm as a "double," or "side," effect to achieve a good end, might have been applied. The good effect, however, cannot be achieved "through" the bad effect. So, a direct abortion, for example, cannot be justified on this principle. In Stacie’s case, chemotherapy, which would have had the side effect of killing the unborn child, might have been performed to save Stacie’s life.

Stacie Crimm

According to a Daily Mail article, the day Dottie Mae was born, Stacie's brother, Ray, arranged for Stacie, who was rapidly expiring, to hold her newborn daughter. When the nurses brought the baby in, they "laid her right on her mother's chest. The two stared into each other's eyes for several minutes." Ray recalled that as this happened the room was very quiet. He said to his sister, "You have done a beautiful thing" before describing it as "the perfect moment." I’m inclined to agree with him.

Stacie Crimm’s obituary reads: "Dottie Mae was the light of her life and her greatest accomplishment. She chose to give this baby life instead of taking treatment for herself." It is just here that I will be unequivocal. In the ninth chapter of Luke Jesus insists that in order to save one’s life s/he must lose her/his life for the sake of the Gospel. As Jesus’ disciples, we don’t merely believe in a Gospel of life, we believe the Gospel is life, that to love is to live!

Nothing I write adds anything to the beauty of Stacie Crimm’s selfless love. So, my reasons for writing are that I am deeply moved by her love and I don’t want what she did to be forgotten, but to be remembered. May her memory be eternal! I can easily imagine my heavenly friend, St. Gianna Molla, greeting Stacie with open arms, tears in her eyes, and a loving smile because Stacie, too, "survived the time of great distress" (Rev. 7:14). To choose life is to choose Christ.


  1. I am , also, deeply moved. It is in this story that we find the mystery of the cross.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. I googled the news story and was delighted to see her brother and sil are adopting her. "She'll fit right in," said the sil, who already has four children at home.


God's love for us is tireless

Readings: Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34 No doubt you've heard the saying, "There's no rest for the wicked...