“Motherhood is no longer a high priority.”
This, claims Dr. Robert Walley in a December talk at Toronto’s Holiday Inn, is the core of the abortion problem. Dr. Walley, an obstetrician from Newfoundland via England, is more than qualified to speak on the subject of motherhood. He delivers babies all over the world – from the east of Canada to the west of Africa. He works with the newest technology in Canada and the oldest in Africa. He has seen it all. Motherhood is indeed in trouble.
Dr. Walley cites alarming statistics which support this. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 third world women die annually from childbirth complications and about 15 times as many are severely injured. Moreover, when the woman dies the baby usually dies also.
Conditions must improve
“We should be ashamed of this statistic,” laments Walley, but notes that we should be more ashamed of the fact that nothing is being done about it. “We must improve conditions for the world’s mothers,” not only in Africa but also in Canada.
In Canada? Surely there is little room for improvement in a country where only 6 women per 100,000 die in childbirth? Walley answers this with another question. If there is no room for improvement then why, at one of this country’s most respected hospitals, Toronto General, are more babies aborted than born? The problem is that, increasingly, mothers are only being offered one choice – abortion. They have no other options and nowhere else to go.
While Walley works on the African solution, he maintains that Canadians can do something on this continent. If we can provide pregnant women with the necessary caring and service during their pregnancy, fewer will choose abortion. He contends that we can no longer successfully argue that abortion is killing the baby – many have closed their ears and will not listen to reason. We must now provide a valid alternative.
People like Henry Morgentaler have fabricated the notion that women need abortion and, once people believe him, he begins to fill this need. Pro-life doctors must reclaim the initiative. Walley’s goal is to re-establish the importance of maternal care and provide centres of “life and hope rather than death and despair.” He wants to personalize these huge depersonalized institutions that are modern hospitals and fill the void they have created for pregnant women.
Establish “caring centres”
According to Walley, Catholic hospitals are no longer the answer. He has seen too many religious-run hospitals across the country give in to financial pressures and drop their all-important obstetrics. Many already do sterilizations and tubal ligations. They have, in his mind, become like all other hospitals.
His own Newfoundland, St. Clare’s Mercy, surrendered its maternity d in favour of other services. St. Michael’s in Toronto, long considered to be the flagship of the Canadian Catholic hospital system, has hinted they are considering the same. Other religious hospitals are under siege in provinces where attempts are being made to force them to do abortions.
“Our institutions are disappearing and now we must replace them,” says Walley. “When our hospitals close their maternity wards, Mr. Morgentaler moves in.”
Walley is not one to sit on his hands. Nor is he a dreamer. 1993 is the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vita, the Papa; encyclical which defines the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control and abortion. The United Nations has also declared it the year of the family. Dr. Walley sees no better time than 1993 to establish his “caring centres” – small personal, professional centres in which women will have an opportunity to go through their pregnancies away from the bleak confines of modern hospitals.
Pregnancy is a difficult time but it can be made easier. By providing a professional establishment run by a skilled and caring staff, Walley is convinced that women will choose it over the hospitals or the abortuaries. These centres will, once again, make motherhood a high priority.
The plans for the Newfoundland centre are well under way and, though ground hasn’t been broken, hopes are that funding will soon be in place. A similar centre in Toronto is also in the works.
No argument can be made against these “caring centres.” The idea is tremendously positive and those who constantly see the negative side of the pro-life movement will have to readjust their sights. Funding is a problem but Walley contends that if he can come up with the dollars in cash-strapped Newfoundland, other areas should not pose any problems.
It’s a big venture but one that will reap huge rewards.