A Catholic hospital saved the life of a young mother of four. The woman was pregnant and suffered from life-threatening pulmonary hypertension, which caused her heart to begin to fail. Doctors determined that she would almost definitely die if she did not end the pregnancy immediately, and the woman agreed to terminate. Surgeons and physicians acted quickly and saved her life.
Soon after, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix started squawking — it would have been appropriately “pro-life,” they said, to stand by while the woman died. It was wrong, in their view, to terminate the pregnancy even though that was the only way to prevent the woman’s death. The nun who acted as a liaison between the hospital and the ethics committee was demoted for her role in saving the woman’s life.
That was a year ago. Now, Bishop Thomas Olmstead of the Diocese has written a letter to the hospital in which he doesn’t deny that the procedure saved the woman’s life, but nevertheless deems it morally wrong and asks the hospital to promise that a life-saving abortion “will never occur again at St. Joseph’s Hospital.”
That’s right: A religious leader wants a hospital to promise that it will not take measures to save the life of a patient if those measures conflict with what this religious leader believes is morally correct. Patients have a right to care — and especially to life-saving emergency care. The fact that a Catholic hospital is the closest one to your home, or the one that the ambulance drops you at, shouldn’t mean that you receive sub-par care and that your life is deemed unworthy of saving simply because you’re a woman or because you’re pregnant. Doctors who refuse to save lives should have their licenses revoked. And hospitals that refuse to save patients should lose all recognition and funding, and should absolutely be legally liable for the harm they cause.
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