British Catholic Hospital Under Fire for Policy Allowing Abortion Referrals
by Steven Ertelt
October 8, 2008
London, England (LifeNews.com) — A Catholic hospital in northern London is coming under fire for a new policy that allows doctors there to refer women for abortions.
Pro-life groups say the hospital is violating Catholic teaching that opposes abortion and even comments from the Pope who recently urged Catholic medical professionals to have no involvement in abortion.
St John and St Elizabeth hospital has been operating for 150 years and it has a National Health Service practice that occupies part of the building and has 9,000 patients.
Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, the new chairman of the hospital has ushered in the new abortion referral policy, which also allows distribution of birth control drugs that could cause abortions in some circumstances.
Helen Watt, the director of the Linacre Centre, told the London Guardian she is opposed to the new policy and said it violated Catholic teachings.
"If it is wrong to perform a procedure oneself, it is also wrong to refer for that procedure. A Catholic hospital must make this unambiguously clear to everyone working on the premises," she says.
Nicholas Bellord, of the Restituta Group, which has been lobbying hospital officials to retain its Catholic pro-life policies, also told the Guardian he is upset.
"It will be possible for a woman to attend this hospital and be counseled to have an abortion and for her to believe, not unreasonably, that she has the blessing of the Roman Catholic church," he said.
"It would be a fundamental betrayal of the Catholic character of the hospital for those responsible for this code to accommodate complicity in the killing of the innocent," Bellord added.
Pope Benedict XVI has previously urged Catholic hospitals, doctors, and medical personnel not to be involved in anti-life activities like abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide.
He said "all of society, through its medical and civil institutions, is called to respect life."
"It is not possible to anaesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone’s life," the Pope said.
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