Debate over faith and medicine in wake of bishop's decision


by Alicia E. Barrón

Posted on December 22, 2010 at 8:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 22 at 10:00 PM

PHOENIX – The decision to strip a Phoenix hospital of its Catholic status has prompted a debate across the country about faith and medicine.

At issue was the decision made by St. Joseph’s Hospital to terminate a pregnancy to save a mother’s life.

Bishop Thomas Olmstead’s decision to strip the hospital of its Catholic status has energized some who are divided on the issue.

Jack Rubino, a board member of the left-leaning Catholic group “Call to Action” stands with St. Joseph’s Hospital. He says, “Their obligation is to save both lives when can't save both, do what you can to save one life. It's pretty clear to me the folks in the hospital had a better opportunity to judge the issues than the bishop and his folks.”

Bishop Olmstead determined the hospital violated a Catholic health care directive by terminating an 11-week pregnancy to save the mother's life performing what he calls an abortion.

Catholics affiliated with the conservative American Life League are wondering how many other Catholic hospitals are violating Catholic directives.

Spokesperson Michael Hichborn says, “There are several other health care organizations that call themselves Catholic and are engaged in similar things.”

Hichborn is working to root out those people and organizations. “They are calling themselves Catholic but they are not. We'll be reaching out to other bishops as soon as we have our info gathered and facts checked.”

Since St. Joseph's was stripped of its Catholic affiliation Tuesday they have received more than a dozen new donations.

A hospital spokesperson says it will maintain its Catholic heritage and continue to consider the Catholic health care directives.