Catholic Health Association Bashes Bishop on Abortion-Hospital

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 22, 2010   |   6:24PM   |   Phoenix, AZ

The Catholic Health Association is going after Bishop of Phoenix Thomas Olmsted, who declared St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center as no longer a Catholic institution.

The issue stems from an incident last year, where St. Joseph’s Hospital elected to terminate the pregnancy of a seriously ill pregnant woman because they considered the pregnancy put the mother’s life at risk.

Olmsted did so because the hospital signed off on an abortion that he says was not a legitimate case of the life of the mother at risk because of the pregnancy.

Sister Carol Keehan, who leads the CHA and has been repeatedly in trouble with pro-life Catholics for endorsing abortion-funding ObamaCare and President Barack Obama’s pro-abortion appointees, claims Olmsted was wrong.

She told the National Catholic Reporter that the hospital “correctly applied” Catholic ethics. In an email, Keehan said the hospital “has many programs that reach out to protect life.”

“They had been confronted with a heartbreaking situation. They carefully evaluated the patient’s situation and correctly applied the ‘Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services’ to it, saving the only life that was possible to save,” she added.

Keehan also claimed Catholic Healthcare West, which operates St. Joseph’s, has a “long and stellar history in the protection of life at all stages” even though a recent report issued by the pro-life group American Life League notes it has supported and performed abortions.

The Archbishop of San Francisco, where Catholic Healthcare West is based, Archbishop George H. Niederauer, affirmed Olmsted’s “authority and responsibility to interpret the moral law and to teach the Catholic faith” within the Phoenix Diocese and to judge whether Catholic institutions in his diocese are in accord with the bishops’ ERDs,” according to a statement.

Two pro-life groups have come to Olmsted’s defense, including Arizona Right to Life and Human Life International.

“Arizona Right to Life acknowledges the difficulty of this decision and our hearts and prayers go out to the family who lost their child.  While we realize that this decision may be divisive, we praise and support the stance taken by Bishop Olmsted and the Catholic Church that promotes life and values the lives of both mother and child during the pregnancy,” the group told today.

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, interim president of Human Life International, added:

“The situation is indeed regrettable, and it is clear how difficult it has been for Bishop Olmsted. But this is what heroic, faithful leadership looks like. It does not take its cues from prevailing mores, but from the unchangeable teaching of the Church, which holds that every human person possesses not only life, but a dignity that demands our respect and defense, especially when he or she is most vulnerable.”

“As Bishop Olmsted said in his statement, CHW has long been in violation of the clear and unchanging teaching of the Church which it supposedly represents. But CHW is obviously not practicing truly Catholic health care. Untold numbers of persons have been misled and harmed by CHW’s shameful ignorance of the Church’s teaching, and since we know that they have been on notice for several years about their errors, they can no longer claim ignorance. Bishop Olmsted’s decision, as difficult as it was, is just and is in harmony with truth. Every human being must be defended from unjust aggression, whether the aggressor is a powerful person, the state, or a physician.”

“We hope that faithful Catholics around the nation will take the time to send Bishop Olmsted a note of support and appreciation, and will pray for him and his staff, for CHW, and for all involved in this sad affair.”

Sister Margaret McBride, who sat on the hospital’s ethics panel and allowed the abortion to take place, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for her participation. Catholic Church doctrine considers that when the baby’s life is specifically targeted for abortion, such an act is considered an abortion. The Church does not consider it an abortion when an unborn child dies as an indirect result of any other medical efforts to assist the mother.