March 5, 2024

Hospital faces closure over Catholic principles

London hospital could be closed over abortion and sterilization

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor / BBCA Catholic hospital, renowned as the "poshest place to push" in Britain, faces an uncertain future after its board voted to enforce tighter ethical codes on abortion, referrals for abortion, pre-natal testing for Down syndrome, contraception and sex-change operations. Two members of its board have resigned in protest and the chairman is expected to follow them soon. Sale or even closure, of St John’s and St Elizabeth’s hospital in St John’s Wood, north London, where celebrities like Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson and Kate Moss have given birth, is now being considered, according to The Tablet, a Catholic journal.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, England’s leading Catholic churchman, has insisted that doctors who use the hospital’s facilities must abide by Catholic teachings. In a letter to the hospital’s chairman, Lord Robin Bridgeman, he declared that "There must be clarity that the hospital, being a Catholic hospital with a distinct vision of what is truly in the interests of human persons, cannot offer its patients, non-Catholic or Catholic, the whole range of services routinely accepted by many in modern secular society as being in a patient’s best interest."

At the heart of the dispute is whether abortion and contraception are an essential part of modern medicine. The dissident directors contend that they are. Dr Martin Scurr, one of the two who resigned, now says: "We are now in an era where the Catholic Church must withdraw from involvement in frontline healthcare." However, the hospital board has sided with the Cardinal, defying accusations of "fundamentalism". Although this may cost the venerable institution the government funding it needs to survive, The Tablet alleges that the board would "prefer to see the hospital become a soup kitchen" than distance itself from Catholic principles. Supporters of the uncompromising line taken by the Cardinal aver that his guidelines "will be a very marketable concept to those within and without the church who are attracted by a hospital where there is no deliberate destruction of human life from conception to natural death." ~ Tablet, Dec 8; Daily Mail, Apr 16

London hospital could be closed over abortion and sterilization