Arizona Hospital Stripped of Its Catholic Credentials; Phoenix Bishop Cites Abortion, Contraception

Article excerpt

Byline: Victor Morton, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The bishop of Phoenix stripped a Roman Catholic hospital Tuesday of its ability to describe itself as Catholic after ruling that the hospital had performed an abortion and been involved with other procedures contrary to church teaching.

At a news conference, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted cited a case that prompted a public spat with the administrators of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, in which a pregnant woman with a history of abnormal blood pressure was admitted to the hospital in November 2009 and her pregnancy was terminated.

The hospital defended itself in recent months and again Tuesday by saying doctors had determined the woman's death to be certain if no abortion was provided. Thus, they argued, the procedure was licit because it was intended to save the mother's life.

Bishop Olmsted brushed aside that claim Tuesday, noting that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for hospitals declaring that even in dangerous pregnancies, both the mother and child are human beings who should not be killed, even for the sake of saving the other.

In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld, Bishop Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph's medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.

St. Joseph's President Linda Hunt said the hospital was saddened by Bishop Olmsted's order, but said the hospital had done nothing wrong.

If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman's life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case, Ms. Hunt said. Morally, ethically and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save. …