Sister Margaret Mary McBride made a difficult decision regarding the care of a young 27-year-old woman in St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., and because of it, the nun was excommunicated by Bishop Thomas Olmstead.
The woman was 11 weeks pregnant and had a serious condition called pulmonary hypertension, which led to the diagnosis of right-sided heart failure and shock. After a consultation with her family and doctors, the ethics committee of the hospital, which included Sister McBride, voted to permit an emergency abortion to save the woman's life.
After the incident became public, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stated it was a "scandal that a Catholic hospital would perform such a reprehensible act." The Diocese went on to say that a set of ethical and religious directives prohibit direct abortions under any circumstances, even if that means death for the mother and fetus.
St. Joseph's Hospital responded by saying that the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life.
Reactions concerning this incident have gone from outrage at the Catholic Church for excommunicating Sister McBride to a renunciation of St. Joseph's hospital for "opposing church directives," according to WeNews, the source of this article.
Recently, civil liberties organizations sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, stating that there are possible systematic violations by hospitals affiliated with religion that accept federal dollars for Medicare and Medicaid services. In other words, almost every hospital in the U.S.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or EMTALA, is the law that requires hospitals to provide life-saving care to patients. According to WeNews, the ACLU's stance is that hospitals that do not provide emergency medical reproductive care are violating federal law. Sister McBride paid a heavy price for her decision.