The former chief of staff at the Phoenix hospital, where Irish nun Sister Margaret MacBride was excommunicated for allowing an abortion of an 11-week old fetus to save the mother's life, said the decision to ban her was "extremely disturbing."

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted ordered the excommunication, saying, "While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child."

However, Dr. William Bohnert, who worked at the hospital for 45 years, says the "decision to excommunicate Sister Margaret McBride for her involvement as a member of an ethics-committee decision to save a mother's life with an abortion of an 11-week-old fetus last year at St. Joseph's is extremely disturbing.

"Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted's decision regarding the sister's involvement in a medical decision to save a mother's life for her family demonstrates again the hypocrisy of church leadership."

Bennet said McBride was an extraordinary woman and should have been praised for her devotion.

"Sister Margaret McBride is the epitome of the mission of the Sisters of Mercy in many aspects. I have witnessed countless hours of devotion and caring by her and her colleagues attending critically ill patients and dealing with the stress of their families.”