NY Times: Phoenix bishop 'jeopardizes women's lives'

by Joshua J. McElwee

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jmcelwee@ncronline.org

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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Phoenix diocese is acting as though he has a "public license to jeopardize women’s lives," The New York Times writes in an editorial posted to their Web site late Wednesday night.

Olmsted withdrew the Catholic designation from St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix Tuesday because of a dispute over whether a procedure performed at the hospital last year was a direct abortion.

The Times editorial is titled "A Matter of Life or Death."

From the editorial:

It is hardly reassuring that following the incident at St. Joseph’s, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said Sister Margaret was properly punished and seconded Bishop Olmsted’s stance against providing the abortion, even to save a woman’s life. No one has suggested that Catholic hospitals should be required to perform nonemergency abortions. But as St. Joseph’s recognized, the need to accommodate religious doctrine does not give health providers serving the general public license to jeopardize women’s lives.

This is no small matter. Catholic hospitals account for about 15 percent of the nation’s hospital beds and are the only hospital facilities in many communities. Months ago, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to investigate reported instances where religious doctrine prevailed over the need for emergency reproductive care, and to issue a formal clarification that denying such treatment violates federal law.

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