Virginia Doctor at Catholic Hospital Accused of Doing Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 5, 2011   |   5:53PM   |   Norfolk, VA

A Virginia doctor who works at a Catholic hospital has been accused, again, of moonlighting as an abortion practitioner and doing abortions at a local center.

Dr. Richard Willard works as an OB-GYN at the Bon Secours Depaul Medical Center, but he is reportedly under “careful review” by hospital officials because of a complaint that he does abortions at Planned Parenthood on Newtown Road.

Lynne Zultanky, the Secours Director of Corporate Communications, told WAVY that the hospital is looking into the potential affiliated but said Willard has not done abortions at the hospital and that the hospital is in compliance with Catholic teachings against abortion.

“We are confident that no procedures in violation of Catholic moral teachings are performed at Bon Secours DePaul,” she said. “Given that it has been five years since we last reviewed this issue, [we are] carefully reviewing this matter.”

Zultanky said, “We will take appropriate action to ensure faithfulness to our Catholic community and the greater Hampton Roads community.”

The television station indicates a similar complaint was lodged against Willard in 2005 and that a probe of the question determined no abortions took place at the Catholic hospital.

The issue of abortions and Catholic hospitals is a sensitive one following a 2009 abortion done at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where Sister Margaret McBride, a Catholic nun and hospital official, approved an abortion that was supposedly done to save the life of the mother but that Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmstead said was outside Catholic teaching.

Olmsted declared St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center as no longer a Catholic institution.

McBride approved the abortion of an 11-week unborn baby whose mother suffered from pulmonary hypertension. Olmsted gave the hospital’s parent, Catholic Healthcare West, until last month to confirm its policies on abortion to those of the Catholic Church or face decertification of its status as a Catholic hospital.

“Unfortunately, subsequent communications with leadership at St. Joseph’s Hospital and CHW have only eroded my confidence about their commitment to the Church’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Healthcare,” the Catholic leader said in a statement. “They have not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion.”

Olmsted also said CHW and St. Joseph’s Hospital, as part of what is called “Mercy Care Plan”, have been engaging in abortions “due to the mental or physical health of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.”