Regular pro-life demonstrations begin at London’s RC hospital

Protesters call for removal of abortionist Fraser Fellows from staff

David Curtin

Approximately 80 people picketed St. Joseph’s Health Centre in London, Ont. Dec. 12, protesting the presence of abortionist Fraser Fellows on the hospital’s staff.

“We want the hospital not to renew his contract, or to fire him,” said Campaign Life Coalition London president John Bulsza, explaining the purpose of what organizers say will be a series of demonstrations to press for Dr. Fellows’ removal from the Roman Catholic institution.

Asked what he thought was the effect of the first demonstration on the hospital, Mr. Bulsza told The Interim it was clear staff members “are really irritated that there are protesters outside. There’s definitely agitation at the hospital.

“The question is,” he continued, “‘Where to from here?’ There’s some communication to be done between the hospital, the (local Catholic Church) diocese, and Campaign Life Coalition.”

The hospital’s position, however, seems fixed. When asked for the hospital’s response to the picketers, public affairs manager Kathy Burrill repeated her response to other recent concerns about Dr. Fellows’ activities at the hospital: “We have reviewed our practices and policies and have found no violation of them.”

Ms Burrill was referring to recent concerns about whether Dr. Fellows might be carrying out some abortions at St. Joe’s itself. Some pro-lifers are convinced he could be the real “Dr. G,” an anonymous Canadian abortionist profiled in an article in the September issue of Chatelaine.

In that article, Dr. G, who is on staff at a Catholic hospital, admits to providing some abortions on site, in addition to those he provides at local secular facilities. While some Londoners have long objected to Dr. Fellows’ presence on staff at St. Joe’s, it was assumed the actual abortion procedures he carried out were done off site.

After an in-house review prompted by concerns about the Chatelaine article, the hospital concluded there was “no evidence” that any staff member had breached St. Joe’s ethics policy while working at the hospital.

In response to objections to Dr. Fellows’ presence on staff, regardless of whether it’s possible he might be carrying out abortions at St. Joe’s, Ms. Burrill told The Interim in November that the hospital has “no moral or legal right” to interfere with staff members’ “beliefs or interests” outside their work for St. Joe’s.

For protesters, such distinctions are simply a matter of hair-splitting. The hospital “seems to be saying, ‘He’s not killing babies in our hospital, so there’s no problem,'” Mr. Bulsza remarked. “But don’t our concerns about human life extend beyond that?”

Observers have speculated the hospital is primarily concerned about whether they would have legal grounds to withdraw Dr. Fellows’ privileges, if he hasn’t violated St. Joe’s ethics policies while on site.

Fr. Tony Daniels, a St. Joe’s board member and vicar-general of London’s RC diocese, told The Interim that “Dr. Fellows continues to comply with all of the ethics guidelines of St. Joseph’s Health Centre. He has not put himself in a position where we are able to remove his privileges. There are very strict procedures that are in place that enable a hospital to review a doctor’s privileges … Once privileges have been granted, we don’t have the authority to remove them at will.”

As The Interim went to print, protests outside the hospital were occurring on a daily basis. Fr. Daniels said, “If they feel that by picketing they’re furthering the cause of life, I support that right.” Adding he’s concerned how the protests will affect the hospital’s image, he said, “The issues are not black and white, and we’re really struggling with it.”