Wednesday 23 January 2008

Defending life by conscientious objection

The Portuguese Medical Association has re-elected its president who defied pro-abortion pressure from the government there. [LifeSite, 22 January] Dr Pedro Nunes has promised not to change the association's pro-life code of practice, according to a message I received from Professor Jerónima Teixeira (pictured), a leading obstetrician and gynaecologist from Portugal. We should be encouraged by the courageous pro-life witness of doctors in Portugal.

The battle to defend human life increasingly centres on conscientious objection. In recent months, the Pope made a powerful plea to pharmacists to resist pressures to collaborate in supplying “products which have clearly immoral aims”. [Pharmalot, 29 October] Benedict XVI made apparent references to:

  • so-called contraceptive drugs
  • devices which may work, in part, by preventing the embryo from implanting in the lining of the womb
  • drugs to enable persons, perhaps with a terminal illness, to commit suicide.

He said: “In this area, it is not possible to anesthetize consciences, for example, about the effects of [a drug’s] molecules to prevent the implantation of an embryo or to shorten a person’s life.”

SPUC is also playing a role in developing the practice of conscientious objection in order to protect human life. For example, we are fighting against euthanasia and the impact of the Mental Capacity Act through Patients First Network. This group helps you tell doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers how you expect to be treated in hospital if you are mentally incapacitated.

The pro-life movement worldwide should be working on ways to build a powerful, peaceful resistance movement against abortion, in-vitro fertilization, human embryo research and euthanasia, to complement the vital political, educational and caring work already being carried out.