By John-Henry Westen

LONDON, ON, March 5, 2009 ( – A (LSN) exposé on the practice of ‘early inductions’ on babies with lethal fetal anomaly at a Catholic hospital has resulted in the matter being reviewed by the Vatican. Today spoke with London Bishop Ronald Fabbro regarding the protocol at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, which permits early inductions for such babies.

Bishop Fabbro informed LSN that he has launched an investigation into the practice at the hospital, in order to discover whether the guidelines are in synch with Catholic teaching. The matter has also been referred to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

In addition, the Bishop said that while the review process might take quite some time, he “wasn’t necessarily going to wait until all of this work had been done before I would be in a position to make changes to the guidelines the hospital is following now.”

The procedure – “early induction” of unborn babies with “lethal fetal anomalies” – refers to artificially causing the child to be born prematurely at 21-24 weeks – earlier than any child could survive without extreme medical intervention. LSN previously established with the ethical overseer of the procedure, Fr. Michael Prieur, that the hospital does not provide such care for children with lethal fetal anomalies once induced.  Therefore, the Catholic hospital was, according to the theologians and medical experts LSN consulted, directly causing the death of these children via “early induction.”
The guidelines at St. Joseph’s contravened statements on the issue by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC).  The NCGC position states: “Induction of labor before term performed simply for the reason that the child has a lethal anomaly is direct abortion.” 
Children with ‘lethal fetal anomalies’ are severely disabled, so severely that they will likely die within a few months, days or even hours of being born.  However, the Catholics Church’s stand on the sanctity of life is such that no matter how disabled the person, they retain the right to life, regardless of how brief that life might be.
All those who commented to in opposition to the guidelines and practices at St. Joseph’s hospital said they did not believe it morally wrong to perform a life-saving treatment on a pregnant woman, even if that treatment would unintentionally cause the death of the unborn child she carries.  However, the hospital admits to performing early inductions for psychological reasons of the mother, which was specifically condemned in the US Conference of Bishops document on the matter.

The issue of the “early inductions” taking place at the hospital hit the mainstream media two weeks ago when the National Post published a full-page article whitewashing the protocols, portraying them as being fully in line with Catholic teaching, a position taken by the principal author of the guidelines Fr. Michael Prieur.

See related coverage:

LifeSiteNews Fully Stands by Original Report in Wake of National Post Whitewash of St. Joseph’s Hospital “Early Inductions”

LSN EXCLUSIVE: Mother “Pressured” to Terminate Pregnancy of Trisomy 18 Child at Catholic Hospital