KNIGHT: Playing God with Catholic hospitals

Left preaches anti-church doctrine of liberal abortion

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Take a case that, on the surface, looks really bad. Assign an evil motive. Ignore nuanced facts. Stir in media outcry. Demand that the government step in.

That’s the left’s recipe for putting Catholic hospitals in intensive care - the care of the pro-abortion Obama administration, that is.

On Dec. 22, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking the agency to investigate Catholic hospitals’ refusal to do abortions when women’s lives are at risk. “The dioceses cannot be permitted to dictate who lives and who dies in Catholic-owned hospitals,” the ACLU said.

On July 1, the ACLU had written to the Medicare agency warning that Catholic hospitals were not providing “emergency reproductive care” in some heart-wrenching cases. The ACLU also complained that the hospitals refused to abort babies conceived in rape. The lives at risk in those latter circumstances would be those of the children, not the women, but this kind of detail gets in the way of the Big Story.

The latest ACLU request was triggered in December after Bishop Thomas Olmsted revoked the Catholic status of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix for a long list of violations of Catholic doctrine and the hospital’s defense of a 2009 abortion of an 11-week-old baby whose mother had a life-threatening condition.

The story broke in July, when the bishop defrocked the nun in charge of the hospital for bucking church rules. That prompted New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof to describe the church leadership “of mostly aging men” as being “almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.”

You remember the Borgias? They supposedly poisoned anyone who got in their way.

The rest of the media cooperated with this cartoon. Missing were details in Bishop Olmsted’s statement, such as a seven-year train of violations:

c Contraceptive counseling, medications, supplies and associated medical and laboratory examinations, including, but not limited to, oral and injectable contraceptives, intrauterine devices, diaphragms, condoms, foams and suppositories.

c Voluntary sterilization (male and female).

c Abortions because of the mental or physical health of the mother or when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

An American Life League investigation found that Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), of which St. Joseph’s is a member, funded “at least six organizations that promote abortion, birth control and/or homosexual lifestyles”; assisted in creating “the ‘Healthy San Francisco’ health plan,” which covers abortion; and that “at least one CHW member hospital promotes the nation’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, on its website.”

St. Joseph’s and other ostensibly Catholic hospitals were thumbing their noses at Catholic doctrine, but the media focus was on the Big Bad Case that could make church authorities look meaner than a late-term abortionist who skimps on anesthesia.

The left uses this Big Bad Case formula so often (think of poor Matthew Shepard) that you’d think journalists would dig deeper. Here’s a question: Was the abortion necessary? Could something else have been done?

Hospital officials defend their call as the best one, but Bishop Olmsted’s statement indicates there is doubt as to the wisdom or morality:

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