Friday, 15 June 2012

Draft doctors' guidance undermines human rights

SPUC has responded to the General Medical Council's consultation on personal beliefs, which closes today. SPUC's submission can be read at
In our submission, SPUC said:
  • The right to conscientious objection is a human right, which the GMC should recognise and protect far more fully
  • Patients need doctors of integrity who practise medicine in accordance with their conscience, including in regard to pregnant women and their unborn children.  Doctors need protection from pressures to treat patients in ways they believe are harmful, or to facilitate such harm by e.g. referring women for abortion
  • The relationship between doctor and patient is not one of service provider to client.  It cannot be consistent with professional ethics to require doctors to provide specific procedures, such as abortion, based not on patient need but solely on patient demand
  • It is also quite unreasonable to expect a doctor with a conscientious objection to arrange for the patient to see another doctor “who does not hold the same objection as you” (e.g. to abortion)
  • To require someone to act against his or her conscience is a violation of the person
  • The guidance is unclear and internally incoherent in several places.
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