doctors' official answer in
H 9 statement STATEMENT THE tide is turning against the Pope's critics after two weeks of bitter controversy aroused by reports of the Holy Father's words to Italian midwives.
Newspaper reports, comments and correspondence are showing first signs of a public recognition of the fact that both mother and baby are, after all, safest in the hands of a doctor who is supported by Christian principles.
And in a statement to " The Catholic Herald" the Master and hon. secretary of the Guild' of St. Luke, SS. Cosmos and Damian, speaking for Catholic doctors throughout Britain and the Commonwealth, answer the critics in forthright terms and underOne the dangers revealed by the controversy.
"It is about time that Catholic doctors spoke on this matter dearly and with no uncertain voice," they say. Their views are contained in the statement which we publish below and in the following seven points . 1. The Catholic doctor who respects alt life, mother's and child's equally, is more deserving of trust than the doctor who is prepared to kill the child by performing abortions.
2. With the advances made in modern medicine, a case where the mother would have to be sacrificed to save the child very rarely arises.
2. 'The Pope's allocution was mainly directed against the abuse of the use of medical grounds for abortion. This has come to such a pitch that it is only necessary for the psychiatrist to say that in any particular case having a child would cause " mental trauma " and an abortion is justified.
4 The Hippocratic Oath as well as the Fifth Commandment forbid the murder of the unborn child.
5. The Pope's pronouncement introduces nothing new, and any 10% of confidence in Catholic doctors or nurses, who have shown skill and devotion to duty in the past, is unjustified.
6. The presets; outcry is partly due to ignorance and partly to enemies of the Catholics who are glad to have an excuse to detract from the good name of Catholic doctors and nurses.
7. The hospitals of this country owe a great debt to the Catholic nurses, many of them from Ireland, without whose help the National Health Service could hardly carry on.
We are Ministers of Life, not Death'
By the Master and Hon. Secretary of the Guild of St. Luke, SS. Cosmas and Damian THE laws of God as opposed to the decisions of Borough Councils are unchangeable and their interpretation in changing
circumstances is a matter of skill, experience and conscience.
What a doctor does in times (If crisis will depend on whether or no he has studied these matters its advance or makes an unpremeditated ethical decision in an emergency. In which case his sincerity is not to he questioned but his professional fitness may be.
It is saddening that the humanity and conscientiousness of doctors and their attendant nurses in this country should be suddenly called in question.
Catholic, Protestant and non-believing students grow together in mutual esteem and understanding.
The informed Catholic opinion on the matters of the Papal address to midwives is well understood by expert obstetricians into whose hands such problems naturally and properly gravitate.
Today it is the aim and it is within the power of both Catholic and non-Catholic expert obstetricians to save the lives of both mother and child and where such is the aim no differentiation of professional fitness should be entertained by the public authorities or by mothers for a single moment.
If, owing to the lack of ante-natal care or through an accident, the mother's life is imperilled it is the practice of the Catholic doctor and of his non-Catholic colleague to lay the facts in good time before the relations so that any operative procedure may be done with their consent.
The public can be assured that a Catholic obstetrician is neither pigheaded nor tyrannical and should the nearest relative express a desire for another expert opinion or for further aid he would never for one moment obstruct such a natural family right. He is the servant of the sick; they do not belong to him.
It is apparent, surely, that the care of a doctor who knows that he must give an account to God his Maker of his professional conduct will be of the highest quality and he will wish to anticipate any such crucial dilemma of mother and child.
From the days of his earliest studies this problem looms ahead of him and he will have prepared himself to deal with the utmost competence with it; in a way, may we say, more thorough and in the long run more safe than if the mind allows the constant thought that if this be difficult I can always kill the baby.
One reads that a town will " watch its doctors." Surely such a town will be advised by its medical officer of health. He watches his obstetric deaths, as does also His Majesty's Coroner, assisted by the vigilance of Registrars of Deaths throughout the country.
Deaths of mother and child in childbirth happen, regrettably. today whatever the religion. or lack of it, of the medical attendant, and no Coroner or Coroners' society has yet recorded that there was a higher mortality of mothers in the hands of Catholic doctors.
The comments in the Press have not been entirely unbiased. For a highly respected K.C. to write that mothers who might otherwise have lived may now he in perpetual peril of their lives is just mischievous comment, properly embroidered with a reference to King Henry VI1I's alleged statement that other wives can easily he found.
It is brutal, callous and inhuman to frighten young mothers.
Another lady publicist refers to fuel for the latent intolerance against creed and affects to justify her liberal convictions by reference to the Pope's voluntary celibacy and to the existence of registered brothels and prostitution in Italy.
It is quite certain that every brothel in this country is known to the police and the highly organised venereal disease service is not a tribute to chastity It was the Italian Pope veho recognised recently and most publicly the saintliness of a poor and young Italian girl, Maria Gioretti, who was killed in defence of her virginity.
I he medical officer of health of Swansea has, it is reported. advised his committee that Roman Catholic doctors accept the principle that the child's life is more important.
This is entirely wrong; both lives
life.of supreme importance. There is no comparison between life and
It is to be hoped that physicians and surgeons will never in any branch of their work attempt to value the lives of their patients and measure their endeavours to save life with their idea of the patient's particular value.
The principle is that the doctor has no right to kill; his rightful duty is to fight for life to the very last minute.
.1 he sight of the instruments formerly used to kill babies before delivery is repulsive. Today there should be no call for their manufacture or use. Ante-natal care combined with X-ray examinations and blood examinations should render the outlook of difficult labour safe.
Modern surgery cannot be compared with the procedures in Nelson's days; anaesthesia, resuscitation and blood transfusion operations can be now done that were formerly impossible. Complications due to sepsis can he fought with the most modern drugs.
So that the figment or myth that a modern Pope well advised and speaking to modern midwives has issued an edict that mothers must be sacrificed is a gross and unpardonable misrepresentation of his words and desires.
It is to he very much regretted that public figures have rushed into print without waiting for a full transcript of His Holiness's address. It is to be feared that there was some latent provolt ed
1;will. only too willing to be pro
Nevertheless, without the Christian spirit of which the Holy Father is the spokesman, doctors would become Ministers of Death as well as Ministers of Life and how ready the Ministers of Death are to enter into the field of medicine can be seen in the report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Abortion published in
19131e. complacent sentencing of unborn children to death because they have a nuisance or danger value is genocide. It is condemning the innocent who have done no wrong.
It was awful that Hitler condemned and murdered the Jews; it is shocking that English prelates should not feel equally sensitive about the lives of England's unborn children.
The Church has preached the glory of the Mother of God and the Pope has proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin; he has given unquestionable evidence of his love for all mothers, and his mind and heart are laid hare by the opening words of his address " The object of your profession, beloved daughters. the secret of its greatness and beality, lies in keeping careful watch over the humble, silent cradle where into the germ given by the parents God breathes an immortal soul. so that you may tend the mother and prepare for the happy birth of the child she carries within her."
If every Catholic nurse and every
atholic doctor approaches his work in such a spirit, then when they go through their quiet anxious wards at night the sick and suffering may feel as did the blind man who once called out that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.