Friday, 19 November 2010

Moral dilemma II

After spending a lot of time exploring my response to the case of Dr Sheila Matthews, a paediatrician who lost her job (as I understood it) after requesting to be excused passing judgement on homosexual couples seeking to adopt, it would seem that the version of the stroy reported by the BBC was not accurate.

According to the Telegraph, the sequence of events was not Matthews asking to be excused and them being sacked out-of-hand by her triggerhappy employer, as I had originally understood it. IN fact, quite the opposite:
Dr Matthews claims she was forced out of her job on the Northamptonshire Council Adoption Panel because of her Christian beliefs that children should be placed with a father and mother rather than a homosexual couple.

She resigned from her post in March after being barred from sitting on the adoption panel. (1)
A further Telegraph article, from 2009, further elucidates what really happened:
Dr Matthews, a paediatrician, will continue to examine potential adoptive parents for Northamptonshire County Council to ensure that they are medically fit.

But she will no longer have a say in whether the child should be adopted by the couple, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Dr Matthews, urged the council to see "further sense" and allow her to vote in cases involving heterosexual couples and abstain in the case of homosexuals.

Dr Matthews, 50, was removed from the panel earlier this month because her view was at odds with the council's equal opportunity policies.

.oO SNIP Oo.

For the last five years, Dr Matthews has examined prospective adoptive parents in Kettering and presented her findings to the council's two adoption panels, which then voted on suitability.

She had always abstained when it came to same sex couples but the Equality Act 2006 required all agencies to consider same-sex applicants on an equal basis with heterosexual couples.

When a homosexual couple applied to become adoptive parents in February, Dr Matthews told the council's head of children services that she would carry out the assessment but abstain from the vote.

She was subsequently told that she could not serve because of concerns about the law and efforts to "attract the widest possible range of suitable adopters". (2)
So Matthews was not sacked, she resigned, after being told she could not sit on the adoption panel.

The immediate impact of this new information is to diminish my sympathy for her considerably. I had previously understood it to be a case of conscience, where an employee had offered their employer a reasonable compromise, which had been spurned. Now, however, it appears that the employer was the one offering the compromise - you can continue to examine couples, but not vote on the panels - and the employee who spurned it.

Dilemma resolved.
1 - "Doctor asks Europe to rule on gay adoptions," by Martin, 15th of November, 2010. Evans. Published by The Telegraph. (
2 - "Christian doctor reinstated to adoption panel over homosexuality row," by Caroline Gammell. Published in the Telegrph, 27th of July, 2009. (

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