You probably won’t find many physicians who, for eleven years, can picket a hospital they
work in and get away with it.
The 63-year-old family physician has been pounding the pavement with a “Justice for the Unborn” sign in front of Henderson Hospital in Hamilton, Ont. every Friday morning for just that long. His work is a response to the fact that the hospital is one of two in the Hamilton area which performs abortions.
But Scime (pronounced SHEE-may) says he doesn’t consider his demonstration a protest as such. “We are here as information. We greet each passerby and offer a pamphlet.”
Indeed, on this particular Friday morning as a young man walks by, Scime smiles and extends a piece of paper towards him. “Good morning, sir. A pro-life pamphlet?” But the young man declines. “Thank you. Have a nice day.”
Scime says he is on the hospital’s staff and has courtesy privileges there. So it’s not unusual for him as on this Friday morning, to visit one of his patients inside the hospital earlier in the day, then step outside, grab a placard from the trunk of his car and start to picket.
Surely this sort of activity raises the eyebrows of the hospital staff he works with? “There’s been very little openly negative response,” he replies. “After all these years, they all know. Initially, I used to have quite a few conversations. But now, it’s pretty rare.
Scime says he doesn’t see his medical colleagues at the hospital as hostile,but : “I just want them to face the issue, which is that the baby in the womb is a human being. They may be doctors, but to me a doctor is just someone whas taken a course, passed the examinations and has been named a doctor of medicine. That doesn’t make him a physican.”
Scime adds it takes a little more. “He or she becomes a physician when they take the (Hippocratic) oath. Only those who swear and adhere to the oath are physicians. The others are physicians. The others are just doctors. That’s what has defended life for 2,500 years.”
A former president of Canadian Physicians For Life and current head of its Hamilton chapter, Scime laments how the Hippocractic oath, which forbids doctors from causing harm, has fallen into neglect.
“Only twice in the twentieth century has the oath been followed. The first was in the time of the (Nazi) Third Reich. No medical student in Germany took the oath.”
The second time is at present is at present. “There is, to my knowledge, no medical school in Canada which has asked its graduates to take the oath in 20 years or so. As a result of that, the doctors are under attack and rightly so, because they’ve lost their moral bearing. Once that happens, all hell breaks loose.”
He believes the answer to the problem is reinstating the Hippocratic oath. “Until we get back to the oath, adhere to it and truly become physicians, medicine will go downhill. Euthanasia follows abortion as night follows day.”
Apart from his medical co-workers, Scime says he’s seen an improvement in the responses to his demonstration from passers-by.
“When I first came on, we used to get in confrontations and arguments every Friday.” On some occasions, his sign was torn and pamphlets were grabbed out of his hands and destroyed. “But now there’s fewer of them…We’re not here to upset anyone, just to give the truth.”
Scime’s declaration to the cause has inspired others to get involved.
Vince Vostrez, president of the Czech Association of Canada, started joining him in front of the hospital at the age of 72 this past January after reading a feature on Scime in the Hamilton Spectator newspaper.
“The reason I’m here is the article that said the doctor is here alone. I thought, ‘oh no, he needs help.’”
Vostrez says he thinks the demonstration has been having an impact in the time he has been participating. “I’ve seen more and more people getting sympathetic….People are reacting more positively.”
He adds that a local pharmacist sometimes drops by to show his support by offering doughnuts.
Jim Curtis, 69, has been picketing with Scime for over a year. He says he finds the whole exercise rather ironic. “They’re trying to save people over here,” he says, pointing to one part of the hospital, “and they’re trying to kill people over here,” he adds, pointing to another.
Scime says that up to eight participants attend his weekly one-hour demonstration, drawn by an abhorrence of what goes on in part of the hospital.
“The ultimate in child abuse is abortion,” he observes. “Abortion is a ware against the mother, the child and the family. It kills a legacy and the whole society….The fundamental unit is the family and we’re not protecting the member who is most in need.”
But he sounds a small note of optimism at the election of the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris of Ontario, which has promised a respite from the staunch pro-abortion policies of the NDP government which preceded it. In the recent election campaign, Harris pledged that there would be no more freestanding abortion clinics in the province and said he favours counseling of women on alternatives to abortion.
“We’re very hopeful, if he (Harris) is true to his word… The mere fact that they’re looking at the issue is very helpful. We just want justice, that’s all. I think if they look at it, they will see the injustice of it.”
In the meantime, Scime plans no break from this efforts. “we certainly hope and pray that society and my fellow doctors will see that we cannot continue. I certainly will, with all the energy and strength that the good Lord gives me.”
It’s already been eleven years on the sidewalk. How much longer will he be a fixture in front of Henderson Hospital?
“Till the good Lord takes me away, says Scime.
“Or there’s a change in the law,” adds Vostrez, who is just as determined to stick it out to the end.