A national Catholic group says that Catholic families should be alarmed that Omaha's Creighton University has teamed up with a Phoenix hospital that was stripped of its status as a Catholic institution because of “serious abuses,” including an abortion that was performed there.
The hospital's status and the Creighton affiliation were noted in a blog posted last week on the website of the Cardinal Newman Society. The society, which says it has support from “more than 20,000 individuals, businesses and foundations” on its website, says its goal is to “help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.”
The society's blog carried the headline “Catholic College Joins with Hospital Recently Stripped of Catholic Status for Scandalous Abortion.”
Late last month Creighton officials were on hand for the opening of Creighton University's School of Medicine Regional Campus at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Arizona. Forty-two future physicians attended their first classes at the Phoenix hospital on July 2 after spending their first two years of medical school on Creighton's Omaha campus.
The abortion referred to in the society's blog occurred in late 2009. According to a statement issued by the Phoenix hospital, tests showed that a patient in her 20s had “life-threatening pulmonary hypertension. The chart notes that she had been informed that her risk of mortality was close to 100 percent if she continued the pregnancy.”
The woman's doctors, the hospital said, consulted with the hospital's ethics review board, which “talked to several physicians and nurses as well as reviewed the patient's record. The patient and her family, her doctors, and the Ethics Consult team agreed that the pregnancy could be terminated ... (to) save the mother's life.”
The Roman Catholic Church opposes all abortions, saying they are contrary to the moral law.
The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, the bishop of the Phoenix Diocese, announced in late 2010 that St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center no longer could identify itself as a Catholic institution because of the abortion and the fact that the hospital admitted to “being in formal cooperation in abortions, sterilizations and contraceptive services administered through their Mercy Care Plan — a $2 billion endeavor covering about 368,000 of Arizona's poor.”
A statement from Creighton was included in this week's Newman Society blog. Creighton's statement said its medical school would continue its relationship with the Phoenix hospital:
“... Creighton medical students currently spend portions of their education at other hospitals that are not in the Catholic tradition, such as the VA Medical Center and Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, while continuing the totality of our educational processes in the Catholic tradition.”
Both Creighton and St. Joseph's, the Creighton statement said, follow the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care.
The blog writer, Matthew Archbold, said that statement “strains credulity,” quoting a Phoenix hospital statement saying its officials “would do the same thing again” in reference to the 2009 abortion.
The society, in a statement issued Friday, said, “Creighton cannot possibly ensure that the (Phoenix) program will abide by Catholic ethics, when the hospital has already been punished for violating the Church's ethical guidelines for hospitals.
“Faithful Catholic families will be alarmed, especially those considering Creighton for a college education.”
In response, Creighton officials reiterated their position, saying, “We are confident that our health sciences academic leadership is following the Catholic ethical and religious directives, which are core to our teaching.”
Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha, said the matter is between Creighton and St. Joseph's. “Both organizations, as Creighton says, follow the ethical and religious directives. We are confident that will be the case.”
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