A Phoenix nun along with a hospital Ethics Committee made the decision to go forward with a procedure that aborted an 11-week pregnancy and saved the life of the mother. Sister Margaret McBride was then speedily excommunicated by the Catholic church.

"In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother's life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy. This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee, of which Sr. Margaret McBride is a member," according to a statement from St. Joseph's hospital.

Cannon Lawyer Father Kevin O'Rourke told NBC News that in his view McBride should not have been punished. "A person knowingly and willingly performs an abortion, then that person is excommunicated. But my contention is that there is nothing knowingly and willingly done in this regard. They were acting, you see, to save the life of the woman and that was their main concern," he said.

The move is prompting some to ask how the church could move so quickly to punish a nun who saved a woman's life yet they take years to defrock priests who have molested children, reported NBC's Lee Cowan.

"In answer to the question, I would say it doesn't look good," said O'Rourke.

This video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast June 1, 2010.

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