Monday, July 14, 2008

BMA considers barring pro-life doctors from seeing crisis pregnancy patients

Update: the BMA have held back from endorsing Evan Harris' proposal.

From SPUC: The British Medical Association has narrowly turned down a motion to require pro-life doctors to declare their views. Dr Evan Harris MP wanted physicians to have to use leaflets and posters state their preparedness (or otherwise) to co-operate with abortion and/or IVF. The association's annual conference voted by 50.6% to reject the proposal.

Briefing, 27/06/08.

From SPUC: A motion before the British Medical Association's annual meeting would
effectively bar doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion from seeing patients with unplanned pregnancies. The move comes from Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP and member of the association's medical ethics committee. The Christian Medical Fellowship has published an analysis of the motion and Dr Harris's parliamentary agenda for more abortion. SPUC supports medics who object to abortion and has produced a flyer and a briefing for doctors. [SPUC director's blog, 26 June]

Here's the motion:

528 Motion by OXFORD DIVISION: That this Meeting:
(i) supports the rights of doctors and other health care professionals to conscientiously object to carrying out, or referring directly for, certain non-emergency lawful procedures, where:
(a) such conscientious objection is recognised in statute, as in abortion and IVF;
(b) the doctor recognises that s/he is not in a position to give balanced advice to patients considering that procedure and does not claim to do so;
(c) the medical practice makes every effort to inform patients in advance, for example through practice leaflets, which doctors are able to provide such advice and make appropriate referrals;
(d) in the event of seeing a patient seeking advice on such a procedure, the doctor must refer them to another doctor for such advice;
(e) in the event of seeing a patient seeking such a procedure, the doctor must, in line with GMC guidance, tell them of their right to see another doctor and ensure that the patient has sufficient information to exercise their right; but if the patient cannot readily make their own arrangements to see another doctor, the doctor must ensure that arrangements are made, without delay, for another doctor to take over their care.
(ii) calls on the GMC to ensure its guidance on personal beliefs and medical practice reflects this view;
(iii) calls on parliament to retain the statutory right of doctors and other health care professionals to conscientiously object in abortion and IVF services within the above limits."

Apart from anything else (d) is outrageous: a conscientious doctor is more capable of giving balanced advice on abortion than a non-conscientious one. The whole thing is an attempt to circumvent the legal protection for pro-life doctors which was one of the much-hyped protections included in the original Abortion Act. Without these protections the Act may not have been passed: now, of course, is the time to go back on the concessions to pro-life opinion they made back then.

Here is the GMC's guidance:

"GMC Good Medical Practice (2006)s8 If carrying out a particular procedure or giving advice about it conflicts with your religious or moral beliefs, and this conflict might affect the treatment or advice you provide, you must explain this to the patient and tell them they have the right to see another doctor. You must be satisfied that the patient has sufficient information to enable them to exercise that right. If it is not practical for a patient to arrange to see another doctor, you must ensure that arrangements are made for another suitably qualified colleague to take over your role."

This itself renders conscientious objection illicit: anyone with a thought-through objection to abortion has an objection to ensuring a patient will see a pro-abortion doctor. This guidance has not yet been legally tested. For a full critique of the GMC's document 'Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice' see here.


Anonymous said...

How sad to think that there is now proposed an official schism within the Medical profession with regard to the value of human life. It beggars belief that any doctor having taken the Hypocratic Oath to defend life at all times and in all circumstances would not only want to partake in the destuction of innocent life but would also wish to be part of an elitist group of abortionists. I can only offer my heartfelt support to ALL members of the Medical profession who categorically support human life from conception to natural death.

Webmaster said...

Unfortunately they don't take the Hippocratic Oath any more.

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