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A Catholic hospital in Phoenix “acted in accord with the Ethical and Religious Directives, Catholic moral tradition and universally valid moral precepts” in carrying out a controversial procedure on an ill pregnant woman that resulted in the death of the unborn child, theologian M. Therese Lysaught said in a moral analysis of the situation. Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted determined that the November 2009 procedure constituted a direct abortion, and he subsequently stripped St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center of its Catholic status. (See Origins, Vol. 40, No. 31, for more documentation on the case.) In discussions leading up to the bishop’s decision to rescind the hospital’s Catholic status, he asked the hospital and Catholic Healthcare West, the system to which St. Joseph’s belongs, to provide an independent moral analysis of the situation. Lysaught, a Marquette University professor who specializes in moral theology and bioethics, provided the analysis; Bishop Olmsted rejected her conclusions. “In spite of the best efforts of the mother and of her medical staff, the fetus had become terminal, not because of a pathology of its own but because of a pathology in its maternal environment,” Lysaught wrote. She added, “There was no longer any chance that the life of this child could be saved.” Lysaught looked at the clinical history of the case, provided theoretical background for her conclusions and commented on statements by the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. The moral analysis follows.


Author Posting. © Catholic News Service, 2011. This article is posted here by permission of the CNS for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Origins, Volume 40, Issue 33, 2011.

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