“Catholic” Hospital Has Abortionist on Staff

Hattip to Creative Minority Report. In a story that sums up quite nicely so much that is wrong with the Church in America, Lifesite News has the tale of an abortionist on staff at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, Colorado.

After a Catholic hospital in Colorado refused to remove a Planned Parenthood abortionist from its ob/gyn staff, pro-life advocates have organized a protest, featuring Live Action President Lila Rose, on Aug. 4.

“The reason I perform abortions is because I’m a Christian,” Richard Grossman, a Quaker, told the Durango Herald after a similar protest outside Mercy Regional Medical Center last year.  “Personally, I believe in the strength, intellect and fortitude of women. When a woman says a fetus is a person, I think it is one. I believe the woman empowers the fetus.”

Grossman is the longest-serving physician at the hospital, having served there 44 years, but he also commits abortions on Fridays at Planned Parenthood of Durango.  Pro-lifers say he is the only abortionist within a 200-mile radius.

Grossman is also a prominent advocate of population control within the community, through his regular column in the Durango Herald called “Population Matters.”  In that column he has opposed the personhood movement, blamed high fertility for poverty in Haiti, and said that the “sort of yelling” he hears from pro-life protestors at the entrance to Planned Parenthood “comes from the old-fashioned era of authoritarian domination.”

Even worse than the fact that a Catholic Hospital has had on its staff a paid baby-killer for decades, is the mealy mouthed attitude of the Diocese involved:

The Diocese of Pueblo told Catholic News Agency in June 2010 that they commissioned a canonical investigation into Grossman’s position at the hospital in 2008 and found that the hospital was in “full compliance” with the U.S. Bishops’ medical directives, known as the ‘Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services’ (ERDs).   The diocese also maintained that his service at the hospital was protected under federal anti-discrimination laws prohibiting sanctions against a doctor over his private practice.

Fr. Michael Papesh, the Diocese’s Vicar for Administration, told LifeSiteNews Friday that the hospital “remains in full compliance with the ERDs,” but they are still considering how to handle the situation.

“The situation remains of great concern to the Bishop.  It is not only being monitored, but we are exploring various avenues of approach more deeply,” he said.

Fr. Papesh also noted that the hospital “disallows him to offer or perform abortion related services associated with the hospital.”

Go here to read the sickening rest.  The major problem for the Church in America is that too many people in positions of power give every indication of not really believing in much of Catholic teaching.  The Church has always regarded abortion as a horrible crime.  Obviously the powers that be at Mercy (Yeah, the irony is palpable.) don’t believe that.  They have absolutely no problem having an abortionist on staff,  one who publishes his pro-abort views regularly in a column in the local newspaper.   The people running the Diocese also apparently don’t believe that abortion is a horrible crime.  In the face of an abortionist on staff  at a Catholic hospital, they are much more concerned about offending federal anti-discrimination laws, a concern which I think is largely a crock and should be of no consideration in any case in regard to the duty of the Diocese to get an abortionist out of a Catholic hospital, and taking refuge behind a CYA “canonical investigation”.   My guess is the thing that really bugs the powers that be in the Diocese is that they are getting bad publicity over this now rather than the reality of having an abortionist for 44 years on the staff of a Catholic hospital.  This is truly appalling and, in microcosm, highlights why many faithful Catholics are continually disheartened by leadership in this country who so often fail to act as if they are also faithful Catholics.   John Paul II spoke ringingly of a Culture of Life and a Culture of Death.  The powers that be at Mercy Regional Medical Center and in the Pueblo Diocese must have snoozed through the sermons.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Why am I not surprised?

    Confusion and doubt abound. If the bishops don’t get it right what hope is there?

  2. Yes, this is truly appalling. But, as one of the commenters at Creative Minority Report points out, having “privileges” at a hospital is NOT the same as being a PAID staff member, which means the hospital may be legally limited in how much action it can take against him over what he does in his private practice (since it doesn’t actually provide the doc with a paycheck). Also, if he’s had privileges at said hospital for 44 years, that goes back to 1967 — well before Roe. He may not have been performing abortions or publicly advocating abortion back when he was originally granted staff privileges. However, I find it hard to believe that the hospital has absolutely no recourse at all, or that the diocese could deem this situation not to be in conflict with the Ethical and Religious Directives.

  3. I suppose he is a staff member in the same sense that I am a “staff member” of the local newspapers that I worked as a freelance stringer/correspondent for. Still, if I were involved in some scandalous conduct that cast a bad light on the publication I was stringing for, they wouldn’t hesistate to stop accepting my work, and there must be some means by which Mercy can do the same. At this late date and after having allowed him to continue with staff privileges for so many years, they would certainly be risking a lawsuit, but so be it.

  4. Well said Elaine. Most doctors who work for hospitals are not actually paid by the hospital. They are granted hospital privileges and are considered independent contractors. However, that does not stop the hospital calling them staff members and not infrequently mentioning them in advertising about what fine care they provide. In the minds of the public the staff doctor is associated with the hospital and the hospital is associated with the doctor just as if an employee employer relationship existed. Note this from the Mercy web-site:

    “Medical staff at Mercy is comprised of 135 board-certified physicians who represent 35 medical specialties and sub-specialties One of the largest employers in Durango with more than 700 full and part-time employees.”

    Here is some info on the abortionist. Mercy is the only hospital he is affiliated with.


  5. I know of at least one Catholic hospital that refers/outsources abortion cases to an non-affiliated clinic.

  6. The name “Catholic” apparently doesn’t mean anything to schools, Universities, hospitals, etc. This is what happens when we start focusing on social justice issues, ignoring the weighty issues of repentance and conversion. John 6:24-27:

    “When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’ Jesus answered them and said, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.'”

    I am coming to the conclusion that the best thing the Church can do is to get out of the health care, education and adoption businesses, and start focusing on saving souls from eternal damnation. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20:

    “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

    There is nothing in that statement about hospitals, adoption agencies, schools or universities.

  7. I disagree Paul. The Amish style of withdrawal from the World has never been what the Catholic Church does. Our mission is to convert the World. We need to reclaim our institutions, our hospitals, adoption agencies, schools and unversities and we need to be busy about the work of converting all the nations.

  8. ‘The Amish style of withdrawal from the World has never been what the Catholic Church does.’

    Don, you’re forgetting about countless Catholic monastic orders that live in virtual seclusion and spent entire lives with no contact with the outside world.

  9. Not at all Joe. The monastic life has never been for more than a minute portion of the Catholic population and never has been recommended by the Church for the entire population. Engagement in the World so as to Christianize it, not retreat from it, has ever been the message of the Church for the vast majority of Catholics.

  10. Don,

    I’ll compromise. First, let’s clean up our parishes and dioceses. Let’s return to preaching the Gospel of repentance and conversion. Let’s put the Bread of Eternal Life first. Then, when we can do that right, we might be able to return to social justice activism. But right now, social justice activism has replaced Jesus Christ as God in much of what passes for Catholicism in these United States. While yes we are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, care for the sick, etc., NONE of these things are the GOAL of the Gospel. The goal is repentance and conversion. It is righteousness and holiness, NOT filled bellies. Even Jesus said that.

  11. “On staff” at a hospital generally means a physician has privileges. Unless they are made a director of a certain department, they are usually not employees of the hospital.

    Credentialing and privileging is controlled by the medical staff bylaws and the medical executive committees and board of trustees, who are independent of the hospital management/ownership. There is a little the hospital can do with morality clauses, but it may be difficult to restrict because if the hospital wants to be viable as an ongoing concern (whether profit or non-profit) it will most likely have to be medicare/medicaid certified. That means it will have to comply with fed regs that can require certain provisions in bylaws, etc. For example, privileges have to be reviewed/renewed every two years.

    There are other restrictions. Because a hospital has to be licensed by the state as well as the physician, the state can impose requirements on credentialing and privileging. There are minimum due process rights a physician has with respect to obtaining privileges at a hospital, so whether a “no abortion on your own time” restriction would work is probably an open question.

  12. So Mercy Hospital blandly asserts that it is unable to remove a doctor
    from its staff because while what he does outside of the hospital
    undercuts everything a Catholic institution should stand for, it’s still
    perfectly legal.

    Why do I get the feeling Mercy Hospital wouldn’t be so willing to
    throw in the towel on getting this man out if he were discovered to be,
    say, a member of a neo-nazi group? Really, would their response to
    the press and outraged Catholics be just as tepid as it in this case?

  13. Clinton, a neo-nazi could be a threat to patients. A better analogy may be if the abortionist was openly gay and cohabitating with another man. In that case, I can easily imagine a similar response from the hospital.

    Suppose it wasn’t a doctor but the hospital’s IT guy. Would people still be outraged?

  14. RR, certainly an abortionist could be considered a threat to Mercy’s patients, at least
    its’ unborn ones. I used the example of a neo-nazi because while such an affiliation
    is legal, it would be very controversial and certainly politically incorrect. Would the
    hospital continue to blandly assert that such a person wasn’t doing anything illegal
    and so could not be denied privileges, or would they work overtime to somehow get
    such a person off the staff? Of course they would, and a good days work it would be.

    I suspect that this doctor has been on the staff of Mercy Hospital for 44 years yet
    has made no bones about his pro-abortion work because the other staff of that
    hospital think that killing babies is not a huge deal. I would go so far as to say that
    Mercy Hospital is a secular, decadent hospital that uses a thin, decorative veneer of
    Catholicity as a marketing tool, with no real commitment to the Church’s teachings.

  15. “Suppose it wasn’t a doctor but the hospital’s IT guy. Would people still be outraged?”

    I certainly would RR. Abortionists should have no connection with Catholic hospitals. In a morally sane era, this would be a subject for black humor rather than an appalling reality.

  16. I asked my mother about this one. She’s a doctor and has been on the board of her hospital, for profit not Catholic, but they follow the same regulations. She said that once a doctor has privileges at the hospital it is nearly impossible to remove him unless he does something illegal or negligent at the hospital itself. Since this doctor has been at the hospital since before Roe, I don’t believe he can be removed by the hospital unless he were performing abortions at the hospital itself. He could also take retaliatory action against the hospital by excessively using resources (ordering unnecessary tests for non-paying patients, leaving patients admitted for longer than needed etc.). He could make life very difficult for everyone at the hospital if he wanted to, and they wouldn’t be able to remove him. What protesters can do is draw attention to the doctor through public pressure and encourage his regular ob/gyn patients not to use him. But I think the hospital is probably stuck between a rock and hard place.

  17. So the law is rigged to protect an evil abortionist but defame the righteous pro-lifer and murder the innocent baby. Truly what is the difference between this abortionist “physician” and his spiritual Nazi fore bearers?

  18. “He could make life very difficult”

    Time for protesters to make life very difficult for this murderous “physician”, including, I trust, the Bishop of the Diocese. You know, the stunning part of this is that I am sure that this bozo didn’t begin doing abortions the day before yesterday. This probably has gone on for decades, and, as far as I can tell, protests about this have only begun very recently. Time also for Catholic hospitals to include a “morals clause” in their agreements with physicians. Such are standard in the broadcast industry and would perhaps give Catholic hospitals an avenue for quick firing of “physicians” who decide that giving death is their true vocation.

  19. “I know of at least one Catholic hospital that refers/outsources abortion cases to an non-affiliated clinic.”

    what is the name and the location?

  20. “When the clergy will not defend Catholic teaching T.Shaw, the laity have a duty, not a right but a duty, to do so themselves.”

    not without a price to pay. Come to boston and find out.

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