Toronto hospitals are performing abortions "without restriction," according to a prominent official of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Rev. Arthur Brown, rector of a large Toronto parish and a member of the National Executive Council of General Synod made the charge in connection with deliberations on a forthcoming report by a Task Force on Human Life.
The report is not expected to be completed until the end of 1973 and Father Brown said he and other pastors are impatiently awaiting it for guidance on new and complex moral situations.
He told bishops and other delegates from across Canada to the executive council that "all kinds of girls are going through our hospitals in metropolitan Toronto being aborted of pregnancies." His information, he said, comes from nurses and other hospital staff.
Father Brown claimed that staffs in some Toronto hospitals are aborting without restriction "under the guise of it being good for the total health of the mother."
Five years ago, he said, one Toronto hospital listed 28 abortions. Last year, the number was over 300, "ten times as many, or more."
He said "doctors are compromised by the destruction of human life" in this abortion situation. On becoming doctors, he said, they swear an oath to preserve life but due to the present situation "they are placed in a major compromised situation."
Father Brown said nursing staffs are upset over having to clean up after induced miscarriages and they come to him for guidance.
Archbishop E.W. Scott, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada expressed deep sympathy towards the position described by Father Brown but said the task force's report will take another year due to the complexities of the issues involved.
"It's becoming obvious that people are feeling a need for help in making decisions in these areas," Archbishop Scott said.
"Each case has to be evaluated in terms of the health of the mother and the possible health of the child, and not only on the question of the sanctity of life but also in the area of the quality of life."
Archbishop Scott emphasized that hospital boards deciding abortion cases should include persons representing moral issues as well as medical issues.
Besides abortion, the task force is studying the whole concept of when life begins and ends in relation to euthanasia, transplants, biological engineering and the vast implications of discoveries in biochemistry. Archbishop Scott said the study has become increasingly complex as it delves into the legal, medical, moral and social aspects of life. The task force is composed of lawyers, doctors, research scientists, housewives, social workers, theologians and others. It is also consulting with similarly concerned groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world.
A progress report will be presented to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada at its biennial meeting next May in Regina.
The long-awaited report of the Anglican General Synod's Task Force on Human Life titled, "Dying: Considerations on the Passage from Life to Death," is available to the general public.
The report, which has been the centre of major controversy for three years, and has gone through several revisions, is now published in its final form. The co-editors of the report were Dr. Lawrence Whytehead of Winnipeg and the Rev. Canon Paul Chidwick of Windsor.
"As has been said during those three years, and must be repeated again," said Archdeacon Harry H. Hilchey, the Church's General Secretary, "this is not a policy statement, it is a discussion paper. It will provide for Anglicans, and indeed many other Canadians, constructive assistance in grappling with the vital moral questions being raised by advances in technology and science. Also, it will give much-needed leadership in a critical examination of the manner in which we treat and minister to terminally-ill persons."
A copy of the report can be seen at Diocesan Synod headquarters. Copies may be purchased soon at retail outlets across the country or may be ordered now from Anglican Book Centre, 600 Jarvis St., Toronto M4Y 2J6.
The General Secretary reviewed his printed report and added (a) that a letter of thanks had been received from the Ven. E.S. Light; (b) a memorial from the Synod of the Diocese of Ontario had been received re the right to hold in-camera sessions during meetings of the National Executive Council; (c) a communication had been received from the Public Social Responsibility Unit of Toronto concerning PLURA.
That the Report on Human Life be heard "in-camera." CARRIED
The Primate introduced Dr. Lawrence Whytehead, Dr. Cope Schwenger, Mrs. Phyllis Creighton and the Rev. Canon Paul Chidwick, and invited their comments regarding the report "Dying - Considerations Concerning the Passage from Life to Death."
The Primate reminded the National Executive Council that this report was presented to General Synod 1977 and returned to the Task Force for rewriting.
That this National Executive Council give general approval to the report "Considerations Concerning the Passage from Life to Death" and following editorial revisions, addition of footnotes, and a deepening and amplifying of certain sections as discussed this evening, and authorize the publication of the report together with a suitable introduction by the Primate. CARRIED
The Primate paid grateful tribute to all those who worked on the preparation of this report.
That a letter of appreciation be sent to (Mr. George Sellers or the Sellers Foundation) expressing deep appreciation for the financial assistance given which made the preparation of this report possible. CARRIED
Following further discussion it was [moved and seconded]
That a press release be issued on the motion concerning the publication of the report. CARRIED
The National Executive Council of the Anglican Church of Canada has received a final report from the General Synod Task Force on Human Life, "Dying: Considerations Concerning the Passage from Life to Death."
The Council gave "general approval" to the report and ordered that "following the addition of revisions, footnotes and a deepening and amplifying of certain actions as discussed this evening, the report be published together with a suitable introduction by the Primate."
The Report, intended as a study document, does not define policies, but is intended to be, as Archbishop Scott said, "A contribution to a process that has to be ongoing." That process is an examination of the moral questions posed by, and the Christian implications of, the care of the terminally ill and the new born infant with gross and uncorrectable defects.
Miss Betty C. Graham presented the Report on the Task Force on Human Life in place of the Chairman, The Rev. Paul Chidwick.
Miss Graham brought special attention to the conclusion of the Report referring to AID.
"The Task Force would like the report to provide insights and guidance to help the persons involved in making responsible choices about these new techniques - the men and women facing the dilemmas of unwished for sterility, the doctors wishing to adopt a responsible approach to newly available medical techniques, the lawyers whose counsel may be sought, the legislators who ultimately will have to deal with the complex problems the techniques raise. As in its report on abortion, the Task Force wishes to promote serious discussion and to aid the church and the community to make responsible decisions in this expanding area of medical science."
"That this Synod request the Primate to reappoint a Task Force on Human Life to:
a) conclude its study of the issues related to AID (Artificial Insemination, Donor) and after approval by the National Executive Council circulate its report for information and discussion before the end of June, 1976;
b) prepare a report on the issues related to death and dying including the extension of life by mechanical and other means; and after the approval by the National Executive Council, circulate its report for information and discussion by the end of 1976.
and that in accordance with the limitation of size imposed on all our committees, such a Task Force be centred in a specific area and be limited to 12 people (as is the A & F Committee) augmented as necessary by corresponding members."
Moved by: Chancellor J.E. Hudson
Seconded by: Mr. David Leaker
That after Section (b) there be added:
- "c) to continue to study the question of abortion. DEFEATED IN THE ORDERS OF CLERGY AND LAITY
The original motion was then put and CARRIED Act 34
The Prolocutor thanked Miss Graham and the Rev. P. Chidwick for their report.