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Fighting for Life in Sagebrush Country: Come to Durango on 7/29

By Stephanie Hopping

“Catholic health care institutions are not to provide abortion services, even based upon the principle of material cooperation. In this context, Catholic health care institutions need to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers.”

Thus reads Directive 45 of the current Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Seems pretty clear, right? But apparently not to Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, Colorado, nor to the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo when it comes to granting staff privileges to Richard Grossman, well-known as the scenic Four Corners area’s only abortionist

Grossman delivers babies at this supposedly Catholic hospital but has been killing them at the local Planned Parenthood facility for well over 20 years. “The abortionist’s work at a Catholic hospital has elicited outrage from local pro-lifers since at least 2007,” reported. According to LifeGuard of La Plata, an American Life League Associate group formed in 2006, the hospital board claims all is well, provided that Grossman obeys hospital rules. Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of Personhood Colorado, reported that the hospital has refused to meet with pro-lifers. Similarly, it didn’t respond to’s repeated requests for comment prior to publishing its June 4 story. Neither did the local Catholic diocese.

To the diocese’s credit, in a May 3, 2009 post, Jonathan Dixon, LifeGuard’s executive director, reported, “Our local bishop has even sent letters to the hospital, asking them to stop this practice, but of course they won’t listen.” That would have been Bishop Emeritus Arthur Tafoya, who was replaced by Bishop Fernando Isern on December 10, 2009.

On the other hand, in a statement recently issued to Catholic News Agency, the Diocese of Pueblo claimed, “A canonical investigation into the relationship between a local obstetrician/gynecologist and the Mercy Medical Center in Durango was commissioned in 2008. The results of that investigation were that Mercy Medical Center is in full compliance with the ‘Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services’ of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).”

The June 10, 2010 Catholic News Agency report continued:

“No medical personnel use Mercy Medical Center facilities for the purposes of abortion. Mercy Medical Center employs no medical personnel engaged in abortion procedures,” the statement added.

However, the diocese said that medical professionals who “engage in abortion procedures in their private practice” have been known “to be credentialed and (to) have privileges to practice medicine” at the hospital “but never relative to abortion or related procedures.”

The diocese said that according to the USCCB’s Ethical and Religious Directives and according to U.S. anti-discrimination law, no hospital has control over a medical professional’s private practice.

“To sanction a medical professional over a matter of private practice outside the hospital would be regarded as discriminatory and could be prosecuted under the law,” the Diocese of Pueblo commented, explaining that it is engaged in “ongoing conversation” about the reported circumstances.

Obviously, the diocesan statement evaded the fact that allowing an abortionist to practice within the hospital’s walls is, ipso facto, an association with an abortion provider and thus clearly violates Directive 45. Moreover, Garcia Jones pointed out, “Dr. Grossman would not be able to financially maintain himself on what he earns killing children one day a week. Does this not make Mercy Hospital in Durango and the Catholic Church a material facilitator to the killing?”—a reference to the “material cooperation” mentioned in the directive’s first part. Michaela Dasteel, former director of LifeGuard, spells this out in greater detail:

By granting Dr. Grossman privileges, Mercy Hospital makes it possible for him to make a living delivering babies on the days he is not killing them. Mercy is also making it easier for Planned Parenthood to perform abortions. If Mercy did not grant privileges to Planned Parenthood’s current medical director or his successor, Planned Parenthood would have to fly an abortionist in every week, as they do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Yet another source of scandal is the fact that Grossman publicly pushes contraception and abortion on his Population Matters blog site (also published as a column by the Durango Herald), using groundless hysteria about alleged overpopulation as his vehicle. In a 2003 Quaker environmentalist newsletter, Grossman wrote,

I wanted to do something to promote world peace. … Because of my interest in science, I could see myself doing something to reduce one of the causes of war—population pressure. … Being concerned about population and wanting to help couples regulate their fertility, of course I had to consider being an abortion provider. Is abortion taking a life?

In this piece, Grossman never answers the question “Is abortion taking a life?” Instead, he rationalizes committing deadly violence against humanity’s most helpless members in the name of promoting world peace. Grossman also defeats his own stated purpose by ignoring the grim reality that permission to kill preborn persons results in increased violence toward their mothers as well, numerous harmful and sometimes violent aftereffects and a generalized decrease in respect for human dignity and the right to life. 

As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, upon accepting the 1979 Nobel peace prize, “The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. …Because if a mother can kill her own child—what is left for me to kill you and you kill me—there is nothing in between.” Let us ask her intercession for the conversion of deluded souls such as Richard Grossman, who kill and/or promote the killing of the innocent in the name of saving the planet.

And let us pray for wisdom and courage on the part of our Church leaders, because as Dasteel observed, “If Catholic hospitals must grant privileges to abortionists in order to receive the federal money they need to serve the poor, what good is their Catholic identity? A Church that tolerates abortionists on staff in its hospitals is not a prophetic Church. It is a Church checkmated by the culture of death.”

Taking action

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

Garcia Jones no doubt echoed the sentiments of many when he declared, “Catholics on the ground in Colorado will not allow the cancer of the culture of death to continue to rot our Catholic institutions any longer.” Indeed, Colorado pro-lifers are on the move for the state’s personhood initiative (Amendment 62) and to uphold the Church’s pro-life teaching. They are coming to the aid of the Four Corners pro-lifers in their battle against the Mercy Regional Medical Center scandal, as are nationally renowned pro-life heroes.

On Thursday, July 29, a press conference and protest will be held outside of the entrance to Mercy Regional Medical Center, located at 1010 Three Springs Blvd. in Durango. This event is being organized by LifeGuard (call 970-385-8451 or e-mail “> // for time and other details). It will feature Joe Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League, and Pastor Walter Hoye, director of the Issues4Life Foundation and California Civil Rights Foundation. (Click here to see the schedule for Pastor Hoye’s month-long tour of Colorado.) Keith Mason, director of Personhood USA, and many other Colorado pro-life activists will attend as well.

If you cannot come to Durango in person, please contact the hospital and the diocese to politely express your concerns:

Mercy Regional Medical Center
1010 Three Springs Blvd.
Durango, CO 81301

Toll free: 800-345-2516

Public relations officer: David Bruzzese
Office: 970-764-3910
Cell: 970-749-9517
E-mail: “> //

Diocese of Pueblo
Bishop Fernando Isern, D.D.
101 North Greenwood St.
Pueblo, CO 81003-3164

Toll-free in Colorado: 800-354-2729
E-mail: “> //

Stephanie Hopping is editor of American Life League’s Celebrate Life, the nation’s only pro-life magazine.