Diocese says hospital in ‘full compliance’ with Catholic directives despite abortionist on staff

06 10 2010 Grossman Papesh Dr. Richard Grossman and Fr. Michael Papesh.

A Catholic hospital in rural Colorado has the region’s only abortionist on its staff, a pro-life activist has claimed. In response, the Diocese of Pueblo said the hospital is in “full compliance” with Catholic directives and the abortionist’s employment at the hospital is protected by federal law. However, conversations are “ongoing.”

Gualberto Garcia Jones, a director of the group Personhood Colorado, charged in an article at the citizen journalism site called the Denver Independent Examiner that Mercy Medical Center is employing Dr. Richard Grossman, even though he provides abortions at his private practice.

Grossman is listed as an obstetrics/gynecology specialist on a page at the medical center’s website titled “MRMC Medical Staff” and in a link titled “Need a Physician?” The link refers to a document titled “Provider Roster,” which bears the hospital’s name.

Grossman’s listed address and phone number are identical to those of the Four Corners OBGYN office.

CNA contacted the Diocese of Pueblo for comment and received a statement from Fr. Michael Papesh, director of the diocese’s Office of Lifelong Catechesis.

“A canonical investigation into the relationship between a local obstetrician/gynecologist and the Mercy Medical Center in Durango was commissioned in 2008,” the statement informed. “The results of that investigation were that Mercy Medical Center is in full compliance with the ‘Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services’ of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).”

“No medical personnel use Mercy Medical Center facilities for the purposes of abortion. Mercy Medical Center employs no medical personnel engaged in abortion procedures,” the statement added.

However, the diocese said that medical professionals who “engage in abortion procedures in their private practice” have been known “to be credentialed and (to) have privileges to practice medicine” at the hospital “but never relative to abortion or related procedures.”

The diocese said that according to the USCCB’s Ethical and Religious Directives and according to U.S. anti-discrimination law, no hospital has control over a medical professional’s private practice.

“To sanction a medical professional over a matter of private practice outside the hospital would be regarded as discriminatory and could be prosecuted under the law,” the Diocese of Pueblo commented, explaining that it is engaged in “ongoing conversation” about the reported circumstances.

Jones claimed in his Denver Independent Examiner article that Grossman would not be able to maintain himself financially through his abortion revenues alone.

According to Jones, local activists have told him that the hospital and the Church fear federal employment discrimination lawsuits if they fire Grossman.

However, Jones argued that the Church should risk a lawsuit.

“In an age when the Catholic Church is sued on an almost daily basis, wouldn't it be refreshing if the church were sued for preventing child killing at its hospitals instead of for allowing children to be molested?” he wrote at the Denver Independent Examiner.

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