Abortion and Euthanasia Bringing about the Demise of Catholic Health Care?

By Hilary White

ROME, November 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Believing Catholics are being pushed out of the medical professions, especially in areas like obstetrics, by the insistence of secularised medical services on “abortion rights,” contraception and, now, increasingly physician-assisted euthanasia, claims a prominent Catholic obstetrician.

Dr. Walley, a Catholic obstetrician, emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and founder of Matercare International, made these remarks during an interview with LifeSiteNews at the 5th conference of Catholic Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Rome. “There’s a crisis in obstetrics,” said Walley. “People don’t want to go into it. When I started in obstetrics, it was what you might call a glamour specialty, all about delivering babies. Now, with everything being based on abortion and birth control, you’re in a position where people are saying ‘I don’t want to be involved in doing the abortions.”

The physician also drew a parallel between the development of abortion in obstetrics and the ongoing push around the world for medically assisted euthanasia. “You will get doctors who pull out of their specialties because they don’t want to get involved in euthanasia.”

“We might be looking at the demise of any Catholic involvement in health care.”

Dr. Walley is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of England, and has a Masters degree in International Health from Harvard University.

He founded MaterCare International in 1995 in response to a request by the Vatican for an organisation that supports Catholic ob/gyns. He was appointed a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Health by Pope John Paul II in 1985 and has been reappointed twice, most recently in 1996. MCI, an organization of obstetricians, gynaecologists, midwives and general practitioners is “dedicated to reducing the tragically high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity throughout the world, through new initiatives of service, training, research, and advocacy.”

Speaking to LifeSiteNews.com in Rome last week Dr. Walley said that the conscience issue “has been acute for 35 years.” Catholic ob/gyns who adhere faithfully to the teaching of the church, he said, are being pushed out of the field all over the world.

“I left England over precisely what we’re seeing now. I was told I had to do the abortions, or I could quit the specialty, or I could leave the country. So I left the country.” And this message is being repeated around the world to Catholics in health care, particularly in ob/gyn specialties: “You can do the abortions or leave the profession.”

Founded as a part of a high level conference sponsored by the Vatican on Catholic ethics and HIV/AIDS, MaterCare International organises pro-life obstetricians and gynaecologists around the world. The 5th semi-annual conference in Rome last week hosted physicians, ethicists and politicians from fifteen countries, including Poland, Australia, Ireland, Canada, the US, Britain, Kenya and the Czech Republic. MaterCare, however, is facing ongoing funding challenges. Currently the organization is run by a staff of three on a fraying shoestring budget, a situation that Dr. Walley said must be remedied.

The field of obstetrics, said Dr. Walley, is overwhelmingly committed to the idea that abortion, sterilisation and artificial contraception are integral parts of women’s health care. “The problem we’re having with MaterCare is that we are challenging the status quo. Therefore we have great difficulty getting the support of governments.”

Surprisingly, however, he also said MaterCare has “quite a lot of trouble getting support from Catholic organisations.”

Although MaterCare was founded as a project of the Vatican, and endorsed and encouraged by the late Pope John Paul II, at this year’s conference the MaterCare group was received in a papal audience only as a late addition to a different conference on organ transplants scheduled for the same day. Dr. Walley told LifeSiteNews.com that the lower profile of MaterCare was due to financing difficulties. “There is no support from Catholic organisations with the money.”

“I keep on telling bishops and priests, please pray for the obstetricians and gynaecologists who are doing the abortions, but for goodness’ sake, pray for the ones who don’t. And that kind of underscores the problem. That nobody seems to care about it. My point is, what are you going to do when we’ve gone? When there are no more Catholic physicians in the field?”

Dr. Walley recalled the message given to MaterCare International by Pope John Paul II, “He said, look, the Church needs you. I understand it’s very difficult, but the Church needs you.”

“But then he went on to give the challenge to the whole Church, and said that it’s not just the responsibility of a few ob/gyns, it’s the responsibility of the whole Church to support you, to encourage you, to bring it together.”

But MaterCare remains “embryonic” he said. “We don’t have the money to go out beating the bushes” to find and organise ethical ob/gyns around the world. “If you want a dynamic, enthusiastic organisation, then you’ve got to have dynamic enthusiastic members.” Members of MaterCare pay a membership rate and these funds support the work of the organisation, but it falls far short of the needs of an international organisation for staffing, travel and operating costs, he said.

“When we go back to Canada, we’re going to concentrate on nothing else but getting people to join,” he concluded.


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