Hospitals that were once Catholic but no longer have a Catholic ethos and allow abortions should be renamed in order to remove any links to Catholicism, pro-lifers and medics in Ireland have said.
Their comments come in response to reports that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, may have performed one of the first abortions in Ireland after people took to social media earlier this month claiming that the first termination was scheduled to take place there.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was originally founded by the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1957, however, it ceased to be a Catholic hospital in 1997 when responsibility for running the hospital was handed over to the state.
Dr Dermot Kearney, president of the Catholic Medical Association (UK), said the reports relating to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital being among the first to carry out abortions legally in Ireland is “very, very sad”, particularly for the people of Louth and Meath.
“It is very distressing to learn that this once fine hospital, in which my younger sister and many other relations were born, is now reported to be among the first to enthusiastically embrace the state-sanctioned, deliberate destruction of unborn human lives,” Dr Kearney told The Catholic Universe.
Dr Kearney also highlighted reports that the hospital’s current general manager, Fiona Brady, had recently written to hospital employees informing them of the proposal to change the hospital’s to reflect a more secular ethos.
“While the actual motivation behind this proposed name change may be questionable, as current president of the Catholic Medical Association (UK), I support it,” said Dr Kearney. “Any hospital that allows abortions or any other abhorrent practices that are contrary to Catholic Church teaching to take place on its premises should not bear a name associated with the Mother of God.
“The hospital was originally founded and named by the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1957 in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes, just before the centenary celebrating the apparitions to St Bernadette in 1858. Lourdes has always been associated with healing, both spiritual and physical,” Dr Kearney continued.
“Abortion destroys lives and can never be justified,” he stressed.
“Hospitals that are used to deliberately destroy life should never be named in a way that might suggest that they are Catholic hospitals.
“Even though the original hospital name has remained until now, Our Lady of Lourdes hospital ceased to be a ‘Catholic’ hospital in 1997 when responsibility for running the hospital was taken over by the state.”
Proposals to change the name of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital resulted in ‘outrage’ among staff and some members of the public, The Irish Mirror reported, and over 8,000 local people have signed a petition asking that the religious name be preserved.
Ged Nash, Irish Labour senator, said that “the name of the hospital has a special place in the hearts of the people of Drogheda” and warned that changing the name would be “taking the heart” out of the town.
However, Dr Kearney disagreed, saying it will be abortion – not the change of a hospital’s name – that will “take the heart out of the town”.
“The reality is that it will be the provision of abortion in Drogheda that will take the heart out of the town. The same sad consequence will be replicated in many other Irish towns and cities as a result of the recent abortion legislation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that it was a tragedy for Ireland that abortion had been legalised and that hospitals were now being used to end lives rather than preserve them.
“We don’t have any details about the abortion which is said to have taken place in Drogheda but we know that abortion is not healthcare and killing a baby because of an unexpected or problematic pregnancy is a huge step backwards for women and for Ireland,” she told The Catholic Universe.
“We saw abortion campaigners and politicians condemning people who asked for prayers for the woman undergoing this abortion. That is absolutely extraordinary: surely everyone would prefer if less abortions took place, or if women in crisis changed their minds and kept the baby. Not abortion campaigners and not Irish politicians who have disgraced themselves in the past year by not only misleading the public on this issue but by becoming enthusiastic cheerleaders for abortion. The vast majority of people, even many of those who voted to repeal the Eight, find it nauseating to see abortion being celebrated,” said the pro-life spokeswoman.
Ms Uí Bhriain said that more than 20 peaceful vigils had been held in the past week at abortion centres throughout the country and that pro-life people had both a Constitutional and a moral right to assemble and to peacefully protest.
“Simon Harris is saying he will bring in buffer zones around abortion centres, but I don’t think they will deter pro-life activists from reaching out to women with unexpected pregnancies and offering a better answer than abortion,” she said.
Commenting on the recent controversy surrounding proposals to change the name of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital to a more secular option, such as Drogheda University Hospital, Ms Uí Bhriain said that if the hospital was performing abortions it would be more appropriate to change the name.
“In my opinion it would be wholly inappropriate for a hospital to be named after Our Lady of Lourdes while deliberately ending the lives of unborn babies,” Ms Uí Bhriain said.
John Deighan, deputy chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital providing abortions is a “tragic betrayal” to the hospital’s predecessors.
“It is with the greatest sadness that we hear news that the first abortions have been carried out under the new Irish abortion law,” he told The Catholic Universe. “The days when Ireland could have been proud of its commitment to valuing every human life are now over.
“If the reports are true that this first abortion was carried out in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital it underlines the tragic betrayal of their forebears and all that they held dear. To condemn innocent human lives to death is the most profoundly regressive step that a nation can take. It cries out for people of good faith to re-double their efforts to ensure decent politicians are elected and just laws restored as soon as possible.”
Picture: Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.