Phoenix Catholic Hospital Questioned Over Abortion to Save Mother’s Live

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Phoenix Catholic Hospital Questioned Over Abortion to Save Mother’s Live

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 18
, 2010

Phoenix, AZ ( — St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church, is facing questions over a 2009 abortion. A hospital ethics committee deemed the abortion necessary to save the life of the mother, but the top Catholic official is questioning that.

Sister Margaret Mary McBride, the hospital’s vice president of mission integration, was a member of the committee, including patients and doctors, that made the decision.

Coming under fire for okaying the abortion, she has been reassigned to new duties.

The hospital has defended its decision saying such decisions are "guided by our values of dignity, justice and respect, and the belief that all life is sacred."

"We have always adhered to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services as we carry out our healing ministry and we continue to abide by them," it added in a statement. "In those instances where the Directives do not explicitly address a clinical situation – such as when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life – an Ethics Committee is convened to help our caregivers and their patients make the most life-affirming decision."

The hospital continued, "In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy."

"This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee, of which Sr. Margaret McBride is a member," it said.

But, Bishop Thomas Olmsted warned that Catholics who participate in an abortion face consequences.

"I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this Diocese. I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition," he said.

"An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means," he added.

The bishop said faithful Catholics are obliged to defend human life from conception to natural death and reminded that a Catholic who "formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion" is "automatically excommunicated by that action."

Bishop Olmsted added, "We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life, and neither life can be preferred over the other. A woman is rightly called ‘mother’ upon the moment of conception and throughout her entire pregnancy is considered to be ‘with child.’"

"The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic," he concluded.

According to the Arizona Republic, neither the hospital nor the Archdiocese would address whether Bishop Olmsted was involved the decision to reassign McBride.

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