CORPUS CHRISTI, TEX., JUNE 30 -- A bishop who excommunicated an abortion clinic director earlier had taken the same action against an obstetrician who performs abortions, the obstetrician said today.
Eduardo Aquino said he would switch religious denominations rather than appeal the decision of Bishop Rene Gracida of the Corpus Christi Diocese.
"I will continue to perform abortions because I feel it is the right of a woman to decide what to do with her reproductive functions," Aquino said.
Gracida excommunicated Rachel Vargas, director of Reproductive Services Inc., in a decree sent to her June 1. The decree, which Vargas made public Friday, bars her from the church sacraments, including communion, holy matrimony and last rites. The Roman Catholic Church seldom excommunicates members.
Elva Bustamante, director of Corpus Christi's New Women's Clinic, said she was warned that she faces excommunication but has yet to receive a final notification.
Aquino said he was notified of excommunication in a decree issued Feb. 21.
The diocese issued a statement Friday saying Gracida would not comment on the relationship of particular Catholics with the church.
"The bishop is very disappointed that correspondence that was intended to be personal and private, was released to the news media," the statement said.
Vargas said the decision devastated her but she does not plan to battle her bishop.
Bishop Edmond Carmody of the Diocese of San Antonio said Catholics involved in obtaining abortions excommunicate themselves.
"This would mean every hospital administrator who works in a hospital that performs abortions can be excommunicated, or the pharmacist who sells the drugs," said Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice in Washington.
The church has stepped up its campaign against abortion. Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York recently said Roman Catholic public officials who support abortion rights risk excommunication. Other bishops have made similar statements.