Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is Your Local Hospital a Catholic One?

Have you ever thought of Catholic hospitals and women's health care? Lindsey writes about a case which should make you do so:

A nun in Phoenix, Arizona was excommunicated for approving a lifesaving abortion. Sister Margaret McBride's career in the Catholic church came to an abrupt end after she approved an therapeutic abortion at St. Joseph's Hospital Medical Center, Robin Marty of RH Reality Check reports.

The woman was 11 weeks' pregnant when she developed a life threatening case of pulmonary hypertension according to Ms. Magazine. Sr. McBride approved the procedure after consulting with the patient, her family, and the hospital's ethics committee, but the local bishop excommunicated her anyway.

Sr. McBride's excommunication is the latest salvo in a national battle over access to reproductive health care in Catholic hospitals. Between a fifth and a third of all hospital beds in the United States are administered by the Catholic Church. Catholic hospitals provide health care services to the community at large and often receive public funding—but they are not required to offer treatments that conflict with their religious teachings.

And those teachings seem to make it impossible to save a woman if her fetus cannot also be saved. Better that both die, I guess. That is -- as Lindsay points out -- the only way this makes sense:

Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix wrote in a statement, ""If a Catholic formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion, they are automatically excommunicated by that action." Note that the Catholic Church doesn't automatically excommunicate priests who sexually abuse children.

"We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child's life is just as sacred as the mother's life, and neither life can be preferred over the other," the bishop wrote.