Catholic hospital in Britain instates pro-life ethics code


A Catholic hospital favored by British celebrities has barred its doctors from making abortion referrals or providing contraceptives, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The board of the private St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital voted to implement a new code of ethics advocated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster.

In a letter to the hospital earlier this year, the cardinal said: "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."

An inquiry the cardinal set up in 2005 found that the hospital had been flouting existing guidelines.  Prominent Catholics complained the hospital's permitting National Health Service physicians to operate on its premises would further undermine Church teaching.

Hospital insiders claim staff who opposed the code may resign.  The hospital could face financial troubles if it must abandon plans to lease part of its site to National Health Service physicians, who are obligated by contract to offer contraceptive services.

The new code could cause other controversies, since the hospital is a favorite with celebrity mothers.  Actresses Cate Blanchett and Emma Thompson and the model Kate Moss have all had babies at the hospital, which has been described in magazines as the "poshest place to push."

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