Catholic Hospitals Need to Stress the “Catholic” Part

Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, CO
Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, Colorado

Ever since abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court in 1973, Catholic hospitals have had to grapple with the problem of having physicians on staff who perform abortions elsewhere.

Legally the administrators of these hospitals can only insist that doctors adhere to the hospital policy prohibiting abortion and other practices contrary to Catholic teaching on hospital property.

But the Catholic hospitals are still faced with the scandal caused by having an abortionist on staff. Catholic health care institutions are directed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers.

How can the hospital be sure that the abortion provider is not referring patients to his other location for abortions, sterilizations or birth control? How can the hospital be sure that the abortionist’s lack of respect for the sanctity of life does not transfer to his treatment of patients in the hospital?

Pro-life activists try to meet with hospital administrators and sometimes target the hospital with demonstrations to alert patients, visitors and the community that an abortionist works at the hospital. But I think the problem goes deeper than the presence of an abortionist on the Catholic hospital staff.

I believe we must call on the Catholic hospitals, and indeed on all Catholic institutions, to recommit themselves to Catholic values. In all their hiring practices, Catholic institutions should seek to employ only those whose values match the mission of the Catholic Church.

Catholic Hospitals Should Take a Stand

Ideally a Catholic hospital should be permeated with the Catholic vision. No one should have to be worried about whether he or she will be treated with dignity, given nutrition or advised to kill an unborn child. But employment and contract law is confusing, and Catholic hospitals may risk lawsuits if they seek to hire only practicing Catholics.

As bioethics becomes increasingly complex, I think now is the time for Catholic hospitals to take the high road. They should risk a lawsuit if that’s what it takes to clarify the right to freely practice religion in the context of running a hospital. Hopefully our Catholic universities have trained good Catholic attorneys who can make the case in a court of law that our Constitution gives our institutions the right to pursue our mission as Catholics in health care, education and social justice ministries.

On Thursday, July 29, I will be in Durango, Colorado to join pro-life activists of LifeGuard to address this very problem. Mercy Regional Hospital is Catholic, but has on its staff abortionist Richard Grossman, who not only performs abortions at the local Planned Parenthood, but is strongly anti-Catholic.

Grossman ridicules the Church’s teachings and recently wrote a scurrilous column [PDF] making fun not only of the Catholic Church’s doctrines, but also mocked sexual morality in general. His presence on the staff of Mercy Regional Hospital not only gives grave scandal, but gives abortionist Grossman respectability that he is not entitled to since he spends every Wednesday in the killing business at Planned Parenthood.

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