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US hospital loses Catholic designation after performing a lifesaving abortion

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 29 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7434
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, lost its designation as a Catholic hospital in December because it carried out an abortion in November 2009 to save the life of a 27 year old woman with severe pulmonary hypertension.

The woman, the mother of four children, was in the third month of pregnancy. The hospital said her condition was life threatening and decided to end the pregnancy to save her life.

St Joseph’s, with 697 beds, is the largest hospital in Arizona. It is part of the hospital group Catholic Healthcare West and does not receive any funding from the Phoenix diocese.

Bishop Thomas Olmstead, head of the Phoenix diocese, excommunicated Sister Margaret McBride, a nun on the hospital’s ethics committee who agreed to the abortion, and removed …

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