Bishop Strips Hospital of Catholic Status After Abortion

A scandal over an abortion is pitting the Catholic Church against a hospital.

ByABC News
December 22, 2010, 12:39 AM

Dec. 22, 2010— -- An Arizona hospital's decision to terminate a pregnancy to save a woman's life has resulted in the loss of its Catholic affiliation.

The fallout comes after a nun at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix allowed an abortion to take place to save the mother's life.

Last fall, a 27-year-old mother of four entered the hospital 11 weeks pregnant and was suffering from pulmonary hypertension.

Doctors said if her pregnancy wasn't terminated, she would likely die of heart failure - taking her unborn child with her.

The decision to terminate was approved by Sister Margaret McBride, a longtime senior administrator at the hospital. But when Bishop Thomas Olmstead of the Diocese of Phoenix heard about the abortion, he excommunicated McBride.

Having an abortion is against Catholic teachings.

Although the move caused an uproar, with some critics pointing out that even pedophile priests weren't excommunicated, Bishop Olmstead went a step further on Tuesday.

He stripped St. Joseph's Hospital of its affiliation with the Catholic Church.

He argued hospital officials did not try to save both the mother and child.

"Instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph's medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week old baby should be directly killed," Olmstead said.

However, St. Joseph Hospital's CEO Linda Hunt disagreed with that statement.

"Our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we always save the life we can save," said Hunt.