You probably remember the controversy that erupted earlier this year when a nun approved an abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital.
The story isn’t over.
Details, from USA TODAY:
The Catholic bishop of Phoenix will strip St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center of its Catholic status on Friday if the hospital’s parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, does not meet his demands to guarantee compliance with church teachings.
Three demands were contained in a Nov. 22 letter Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted sent to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West. The bishop wants the hospital to give him more oversight of its practices to ensure it complies with Catholic health-care rules, provide education on those rules to medical staff and acknowledge that the bishop is correct in a dispute over a procedure the diocese says was an abortion.
“There cannot be a tie in this debate,” Olmsted wrote. “Until this point in time, you have not acknowledged my authority to settle this question.”
St. Joseph’s and San Francisco-based CHW did not immediately comment on the letter.
If the bishop were to revoke the hospital’s Catholic status, Olmsted said, he would prohibit Mass and some religious items at the building. How the loss of Catholic identity would affect the facility’s mission, funding and perception by patients and the public remains unclear.
The letter is the culmination of a debate that began in November 2009.
A pregnant woman at the hospital suffered from pulmonary hypertension, a condition that limits the ability of the heart and lungs to function and is made worse, possibly fatal, by pregnancy. After consulting with Sister Margaret McBride, a member of the hospital’s ethics committee, doctors terminated the pregnancy.
Olmsted condemned the surgery as an abortion, which is prohibited by church doctrine, and at the time said the decision effectively meant the excommunication of McBride, a St. Joseph’s vice president.
St. Joseph’s has since argued that the case was more akin to removing a pregnant woman’s cancerous uterus, which is permissible under church doctrine, than to a standard abortion. McBride remains a nun on the hospital staff.