It’s good to know that in Canada no abortions are performed in eleven non-Catholic hospitals – four of them in Ontario. One of these is Grace General Hospital in Scarborough, Ontario.
Brendan Wycks, executive assistant at Grace General, said the hospital does not employ abortionists. According to him, when doctors apply for privileges they are told bluntly that they can’t do abortions.
“If a doctor doesn’t like it,” he said, “he withdraws his application. Doctors here don’t object to not doing any abortions. They know our position.”
“The Salvation Army’s long involvement with the social problems of the community makes it vitally aware of the need for long-term solutions to this complex situation which cannot be achieved through the short-cut offered by abortion on demand.” He explained.
They have also taken public positions against active homosexuality, pornography and euthanasia.
Scarborough Grace General Hospital, a large, new, ultra-modern hospital located on the outskirts of Toronto, is one of four Ontario hospitals selected for a three-year trial of a ‘Birthing Centre.’
Here the maternity care provides for minimal separation of the baby from its parents, and one-on-one attention from a specially trained nurse-midwife.
One satisfied mom said of this six month experiment: “I wish I could have had all four of my children in this type of atmosphere. The nurses were wonderful and always concerned about the baby. Everyone was so helpful, even after I left the hospital.”
“It’s really a whole different atmosphere,” said Dr. Colin Herd, Physician-in-charge. “It’s a relaxed place to be. Our patients are often in their street clothes relaxing in a lounge chair with their baby within an hour or two after the birth. Most times you couldn’t even tell they’ve just given birth. But they look good. For us, the Birthing Centre makes being involved in the miracle of birth even more enjoyable.”
The hospital, opened only in November of 1985, has proved to be competent, well-staffed and innovative. It houses the only Metro Toronto-wide computerized bed registry, informing hospitals and ambulance services of available beds for emergencies or for patients with special needs.
In 1985 it became the first hospital in Canada to operate an argon laser – a device which treats eye problems occurring mostly from diabetes.
The hospital also specializes in pastoral care, on call 24 hours, and conducts an interdenominational memorial service for relatives of deceased patients on a regular basis. Lat pastoral visitors are trained in a three-or0four session course to interact with hospital patients, visiting and chatting with them.
A staff member also conducts a bereavement service, helping parents to grieve and mourn over the untimely death of their child.
Despite all the first-class medical services in their hospitals, the Salvation Army’s position on abortion is contradictory.
The Army states publicly that it “does not accept the rightness of abortion on demand: that is, of abortion performed at the request of women concerned purely on social grounds.” This position “is based on the Christian ideal of chastity before marriage and fidelity within the marital relationship.”
But in the same statement the Army maintains that “it is consistent with this that abortion may be procured on competent medical authority in order to save the life of the mother [ectopic pregnancy] or to prevent serious injury to her physical or mental well-being.” (emphasis added)
When unwanted pregnancies occur it is the experience of officers in the Salvation Army social services that in most instances it is best to counsel acceptance of the situation and carry the fetus to term whilst giving all possible supportive help.
Captain Jim Ellis, a counselor at Grace Hospital, clarified the practical consequences of these conflicting positions. He told The Interim that on occasion medical personnel will refer to other hospitals women who want abortions because of rape, incest or fetal abnormality.
He, himself, has driven a woman to another hospital in Toronto who insisted on obtaining an abortion. Her pregnancy, he stated, was caused by rape. He claimed that it was not as rare as generally believed.
He also said that a staff urologist does vasectomies, and that other doctors perform tubal ligations. The Army’s official statement condones sterilization, but states that this should be performed only on competent medical advice.
Captain Ellis claimed he didn’t see any contradiction between Grace Hospital’s common practice of abortion referrals and the Salvation Army’s October 1988 position on abortion which states that “sanctity of all human life considers each person to be of infinite value and such life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.”