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Catholic ethos means National Maternity Hospital will offer care to all who need it

By Cian Molloy - 24 April, 2017

A healthcare organisation bearing the name 'Catholic', while offering care to all who need it, has a special responsibility to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and the dignity and ultimate destiny of the human person.

As a matter of course, all treatments and procedures available at the new National Maternity Hospital will conform to Catholic teaching and practice, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin has confirmed.

Dr Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin and Chair of the Irish Bishops’ Bio-ethics Committee

The €300m hospital, which is due to be built next door to St Vincent’s Hospital at Elm Park, Dublin, will be owned and operated by the St Vincent’s Health Group (SVHG), which in turn is owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity.

As a result, the care of women and their babies at the hospital will be informed by a Catholic ethos, Bishop Doran told The Sunday Times newspaper.

“A healthcare organisation bearing the name ‘Catholic’, while offering care to all who need it, has a special responsibility to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and the dignity and ultimate destiny of the human person,” said Dr Doran, who is Chair of the Irish Bishops’ Bio-ethics Committee.

He stated that “Public funding, while it brings with it other legal and moral obligations, does not change that responsibility.”

Immediately, most people will realise that a hospital with a Catholic ethos would never provide abortion services. But it also means that several other services that are quite commonplace elsewhere in the world would not be provided, including artificial assisted reproduction services.

Assisted reproduction

One such service is in vitro fertilisation (IVF), which is contrary to Catholic teaching for two reasons. Firstly, the laboratory procedure dissociates the sexual act from the procreative act and secondly, most of the embryos conceived using IVF end up being destroyed.

Pioneered in the UK in 1977, IVF is now the method used to conceive more than 1.5 per cent of all babies born in the US. With more than 4m births a year, this means that 60,000 US babies each year are born thanks to IVF, but each one of those babies has had brothers and sisters who were created and then possibly destroyed as part of the process.

Those who have no qualms about abortion, IVF and/or other procedures, such as elective sterilisation, are objecting to the proposal that the National Maternity Hospital come under the ownership of a private organisation with a Catholic ethos. This is despite the fact that the existing National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street has for many decades been owned and managed by the Religious Sisters of Charity.

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