Monday, March 24, 2008

GMC: Catholic doctors must cooperate with abortion

Briefing: despite the many excellent responses to their earlier consultation, the GMC have reaffirmed in their guidlines that doctors opposed to abortion must cooperate in it: they must ensure that anyone wanting an abortion gets it, fast. Such cooperation is gravely morally wrong.

The GMC's guidlines do not have the force of law, but they will be referred to in any legal case on the matter. The key paragraphs are these (adressed to doctors):
  1. Patients may ask you to perform, advise on, or refer them for a treatment or procedure which is not prohibited by law or statutory code of practice in the country where you work, but to which you have a conscientious objection7. In such cases you must tell patients of their right to see another doctor with whom they can discuss their situation and ensure that they have sufficient information8 to exercise that right. In deciding whether the patient has sufficient information, you must explore with the patient what information they might already have, or need.

  2. In the circumstances described in paragraph 21, if the patient cannot readily make their own arrangements to see another doctor you must ensure that arrangements are made, without delay, for another doctor to take over their care. You must not obstruct patients from accessing services or leave them with nowhere to turn. Whatever your personal beliefs may be about the procedure in question, you must be respectful of the patient’s dignity and views.

  3. You must be open with patients - both in person and in printed materials such as practice leaflets - about any treatments or procedures which you choose not to provide or arrange because of a conscientious objection, but which are not otherwise prohibited.

  4. If your post involves arranging treatment or carrying out procedures to which you have a conscientious objection, you should explain your concerns to your employer or contracting body. You should explore constructively with them how to resolve the difficulty without compromising patient care, and without placing an unreasonable burden on colleagues.

  5. You have an overriding duty to provide care for patients who are in need of medical treatment, whatever the cause of that medical need. It is not acceptable to seek to opt out of treating a particular patient or group of patients because of your personal beliefs or views about them.
Full document 'Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice' here.


Anonymous said...

I had already read this "guidance" published by the GMC. As a GP, a reference to it in a doctors' magazine caught my eye, so I looked it up on the GMC website.

The relevant section was well down the document, but I found it & felt duly appalled, but not the slightest bit surprised. Having read medical discussion boards on the internet, the majority of the doctors posting there seem to have neither sympathy for, nor understanding of issues of conscience. Very few countries have a true respect for freedom of speech or conscience, and over recent years the intolerance of free speech in this country has steadily worsened.

This latest "guidance" from the GMC, is of a piece with the 3 line whip the government has placed on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The independance of the GMC from government control has been steadily eroded, by constant attacks on its integrity whenever its findings have been unpopular. This has left it dependent on the government for its authority, rather than on the respect of patients and doctors.

The only place our current masters have for tolerance is to demand it from their opponents towards their pet projects; it is not a two way street. When England was supposedly a Catholic country, neither Henry II nor Henry VIII had much time for opposition on the grounds of conscientios objection. I find it hardly surprising that our anti-clerical (not merely secular) government is so openly coercive of doctors who object to its policies on moral grounds.

Unlike our "Catholic" cabinet members and Labour MPs, I hope I would not simply wring my hands if confronted by a conflict between my conscience and my alleged "ethical" duties as a doctor. I hope I would have the courage to do as my conscience requires, and let events take their course thereafter. I am sure the penalties would be much less than in times gone by, and I could eventually appeal to Strasbourg, which is not subject to control from Downing Street.

Webmaster said...

Thank you. All our readers should pray for Catholic doctors. Difficult times lie ahead.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen