Council removes Christian paediatrician from adoption panel

A paediatrician has been removed as a medical adviser to Northamptonshire County Council after asking to abstain from making recommendations on the placement of children with same-sex couples.

Published 19 July 2009
Dr Sheila Matthews, who has been a medical adviser to the Council’s adoption panel for five years, said she believed it would be “inappropriate” to place children in a household with same sex parents.

“Using my professional judgement and having done a lot of reading around the subject, I am satisfied that there are research findings which support my position that a same sex partnership is not the best family setting to bring up children,” she said.

“Therefore professionally and personally I cannot recommend placement in a same-sex household to be in the best interest of a child, despite what politicians may have legislated for, and as those on the panel have a legal obligation to do what they believe is in the best interests of the child, then I cannot support a recommendation with which I do not agree.

“This conflicts with my professional, religious and personal integrity.”

Dr Matthews was told in April by the Council’s Head of Services for Children, Young People and Families, Martin Pratt, that she could no longer be on the panel and that another medical adviser would be found to replace her.

She has sought advice from the Christian Legal Centre. Its director Andrea Minichiello Williams said her case was another example of “how a well respected professional who holds conscientious views on sexual practice, informed by Christian faith, is being asked to choose between her faith and her job”.

Ms Williams said new legislation designed to prevent discrimination was “having the opposite effect”.

“And devout Christians are suffering the consequences,” she said. “This is not the mark of a free and civilised society where freedom of speech and religion is carefully guarded.”

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