an area health authority's decision to open a day-care abortion clinic at a local hospital. The chaplains, at St Mary's Hospital, Plaistow, in East London, are Catholic, Anglican and nonConformist.
In a letter to the authority they state: "Our understanding of medical care is that it's essential purpose is the preservation and protection of life. The establishment of a day-care clinic would, in our view, be a denial of these principles."
The Catholic chaplain, Fr Denis Hall, said: "We've always agreed among Catholics that abortion is wrong — but there is now opposition to the day-care clinic among non-Catholics and staff at the hospital."
If the service opens Fr Hall fears that there will be more abortions and that staff would be under pressure to perform the operation, even against their will.
Gwen Davey, the secretary of the Newham Community Health Council denied these charges. She thought that there would not be any increase in the number of.abortions performed, but simply a transfer of private patients to the National Health Service.
She pointed to a similar service that had started recently in nearby Tower Hamlets as evidence of this. Nor could she believe that there would be any pressure upon nurses to act against their consciences.
A new clinic would also mean that patients requiring abortions would now be kept separate from other patients — an advantage that Fr Hall conceded.
The decision to open the clinic comes after two years of discussion, and Fr Hall did not believe it would be reversed. He felt obliged to protest in order to make the Catholic position clear to the authority.
As chaplain to St Mary's Hospital for more than ten years he knew that some staff had strong moral objections, and those who were Catholics could find themselves compromised.