Phoenix, Ariz., Dec 16, 2010 / 03:50 am
According to a recent letter that became public on Dec. 15, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix may revoke the Catholic affiliation of an Arizona hospital that performed an abortion in November 2009.
The letter is addressed from Bishop Olmsted to Lloyd Dean, president of the San Francisco-based non-profit corporation Catholic Healthcare West, which operates St. Joseph's Hospital in the Diocese of Phoenix. It concerns a rift that has emerged between the bishop and the health care corporation, after staff at St. Joseph's chose to abort the child of a woman some advisers said could not safely give birth.
That incident led to the excommunication of a religious sister, Margaret McBride, who had advised doctors to perform the abortion. Defenders of her decision said that the abortion was permissible under the principle of “double effect,” because the primary intention was to ensure the health of a physically frail woman.
However, Bishop Olmsted's judgment –which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops later endorsed– was that the proposed “treatment” consisted primarily of a direct and intentional abortion, making it ethically impermissible under any circumstances. Catholic Healthcare West, however, has not admitted any wrongdoing in the highly publicized case.