I recently blogged on the Council of Europe’s 7 October decision to throw out a resolution (see original wording) seeking to force health professionals across Europe to be involved in abortion.
As a result of the humiliating defeat of pro-abortion activists the resolution actually passed was ironically one of strongest defences of conscientious objection in European history.
Whilst Council of Europe resolutions are not legally binding, they nonetheless can be used to exert strong influence on national laws and have a bearing on rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. Had the original resolution been passed it would have led to pressure being placed on the 47 member European countries to change their laws in this area.
Instead, former Labour MP Christine McCafferty (pictured) and those who supported her were ‘hoist on (their) own petard’
The full text of the amended resolution reads as follows:
The right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care
Resolution 1763 (2010) 
1.No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason.
2.The Parliamentary Assembly emphasises the need to affirm the right of conscientious objection together with the responsibility of the state to ensure that patients are able to access lawful medical care in a timely manner. The Assembly is concerned that the unregulated use of conscientious objection may disproportionately affect women, notably those having low incomes or living in rural areas.
3.In the vast majority of Council of Europe member states, the practice of conscientious objection is adequately regulated. There is a comprehensive and clear legal and policy framework governing the practice of conscientious objection by healthcare providers ensuring that the interests and rights of individuals seeking legal medical services are respected, protected and fulfilled.
4.In view of member states' obligation to ensure access to lawful medical care and to protect the right to health, as well as the obligation to ensure respect for the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion of healthcare providers, the Assembly invites Council of Europe member states to develop comprehensive and clear regulations that define and regulate conscientious objection with regard to health and medical services, which:
4.1.guarantee the right to conscientious objection in relation to participation in the procedure in question;
4.2.ensure that patients are informed of any objection in a timely manner and referred to another healthcare provider;
4.3.ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment, in particular in cases of emergency.
 Assembly debate on 7 October 2010 (35th Sitting) (see Doc. 12347, report of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mrs McCafferty, and Doc. 12389, opinion of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, rapporteur: Mrs Circene). Text adopted by the Assembly on 7 October 2010 (35th Sitting).