Wednesday, December 22, 2010
"Catholic Health Association Back Phoenix Hospital" Will Pregnant Women Feel Safe in Catholic Hospitals Run By Bishops?
Catholic Health Association backs Phoenix hospital
Dec. 22, 2010
By Jerry Filteau - NCR Online
"St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix acted in accord with Catholic directives on medical ethics when it performed an abortion last year to save the mother’s life, the head of the Catholic Health Association of the United States said Dec. 21."
..."In November 2009 the woman was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center with worsening symptoms. Tests revealed that she now had life-threatening pulmonary hypertension. The chart notes that she had been informed that her risk of mortality was close to 100 percent if she continued the pregnancy. The medical team contacted the Ethics Consult team for review. The consultation team talked to several physicians and nurses as well as reviewed the patient’s record. The patient and her family, her doctors and the Ethics Consult team agreed that the pregnancy could be terminated, and that it was appropriate since the goal was not to end the pregnancy but save the mother’s life.”
..." The Arizona Republic, learned that Olmstead had been told about the abortion and had privately informed the head of the ethics committee, Mercy Sr. Margaret McBride, that in approving the abortion McBride had incurred automatic excommunication from the church. "
At the time it was revealed that the woman in question was in the 11th week of pregnancy, had four other young children, and had resisted abortion as an option until it became clear that both she and the unborn child were in imminent danger of death if she tried to continue her pregnancy."
"Olmsted contended that the hospital violated Directive 45 of the bishops’ “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which says, “Abortion – that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus – is never permitted..." The hospital contended that it was not in violation of that directive but rather was following the modifying principle in Directive 47, which says, “Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”
Although by episcopal decree St. Joseph’s can no longer call itself Catholic, the hospital said, “St. Joseph’s will retain its name and our Catholic heritage will always be at the core of who we are. Our mission and values will not change.”
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
The bottom line is St. Joseph's Hospital is still in spirit a "Catholic" hospital, but no longer under the control of the bishop) because it is following the Gospel mandate of Jesus to show compassion and its decision in this case reflects the long-standing moral teaching of the Catholic Church. The general public, including Catholic women, can breathe a sigh of relief that St. Joseph's will continue to offer health care that does not put their lives at risk. Like St. Joseph, who stood up for Mary when her life was at risk, so too, St. Joseph's Hospital will continue to work to save the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children.
On the other hand, if Catholic hospitals follow Bishop Olmsted's directive- that abortion is never permitted under any circumstances including when a woman's life is at risk- then, pregnant women may no longer feel safe in Catholic hospitals.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests