After a confidential in-house review, St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ont. has concluded there is “no evidence of any breach of the pro-life values of St. Joseph’s Health Centre.”

Kathy Burrill, the Roman Catholic hospital’s public affairs manager, told The Interim there is “no tangible evidence or reason” to believe the anonymous abortionist featured recently in Chatelaine magazine could actually be St. Joe’s staff member Dr. Fraser Fellows. Without such evidence, she said, the similarities between the two are a matter of “coincidence.”

Ms Burrill declined to explain what the hospital would consider to be “tangible evidence.” She said the hospital has done a “thorough review with due diligence,” and that they are “confident of the outcome.”

Many London pro-lifers, however, thought the similarities between Dr. Fellows and Chatelaine’s “Dr. G” were cause for grave concern. Details of Dr. Fellows’ and Dr. G’s professional and personal situations seemed to match point for point.

There’s no question that Fellows is an abortionist. While his presence on staff at St. Joe’s has been a matter of some controversy for several years, it’s been assumed that the abortions he performs are carried out at two secular hospitals where he has operating privileges.

What pro-lifers found alarming in the Chatelaine article was Dr. G’s admitting that he actually commits some clandestine abortions at St. X’s, the Catholic hospital where he’s on staff. They worried that if Dr. G. really was Dr. Fellows, as a lot of information seemed to suggest, it might be possible that abortions were actually taking place at St. Joe’s.

The Interim quoted a source last month saying Dr. Fellows has “adamantly denied” he is the abortionist in question. Hospital representatives, however, declined to say whether that is the case, or even to say whether Dr. Fellows had been questioned during the hospital’s review.

Abortionist ‘key part of team’

Fr. Tony Daniels, a St. Joe’s board member and vicar general for the Roman Catholic diocese of London, told The Interim that “at the end of the review there was no substantial evidence to indicate that St. Joseph’s was the hospital being described in the Chatelaine article.” He emphasized that “the hospital administration and the diocese took the (matter) very seriously.

“It was very important to us to know whether or not the policies of the hospital—our regard for the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death—was being violated by anybody at the hospital.

The matter was looked into very thoroughly with great care, and throughout the whole review what kept coming to me was exactly how important it is to the administration that the hospital’s ethics are cared for.”

Like Ms Burrill, Fr. Daniels was unable to provide any specific information about what the hospital’s review entailed, or why the many detailed similarities between Dr. Fellows and Dr. G. were not considered “substantial evidence.”

The hospital’s response has led some pro-lifers to wonder whether the administration was looking for some sort of absolute proof, such as an eyewitness account of Chatelaine’s interview with the real Dr. G, and whether anything short of that kind of proof was dismissed. Supporters of the hospital, while hopeful that the public will refrain from judging the situation, fear that the number of similarities between Dr. Fellows and Dr. G is so great, people might be left with unresolved doubts about St. Joe’s credibility.

Moreover, Dr. Fellows’ presence on staff at St. Joe’s has long been a subject of considerable concern to pro-lifers in London. Ms Burrill, however, said the hospital has no plans even to examine the issue of his being on staff.

“Our concern is to ensure that the values and policies of St. Joseph’s Health Centre are understood and followed by physicians, staff members, and volunteers in the course of their care delivery and work within this organization. We do not have the moral or legal right to stipulate the values, beliefs, or interests of people outside of their work for this health centre.”

A consultant to the St. Joe’s obstetrical department, who asked not to be named, said Dr. Fellows is also highly valued at the hospital. “His own staff feel he’s one of their best obstetricians. He’s been instrumental in bringing many high-risk pregnancies to term. They feel he’s a key part of their team.”

Whatever Dr. Fellows’ skills may be, the fact that he is an abortionist has made some patients uncomfortable at St. Joseph’s. The consultant told The Interim that some obstetrics patients have expressed unwillingness to be treated by him. In one case, a patient wanted to refuse his services, but felt she couldn’t, because of the urgency of her situation. The experience left her upset and indignant.

When asked if it’s fair to put people in such a situation, Ms Burrill said, “In terms of the communication and the development of a relationship that a patient has with their care provider, that kind of relationship and shared understanding and expression of care expectations happens ideally before an emergency or urgent situation arises.”

The consultant to the obstetrical department admitted that it’s “not always possible” to deal with such situations. “It’s a tough thing, when you’re dealing with a whole team of people, where (the doctors) take turns on call.”