Doctors and nurses who have a moral objection to prescribing ‘contraceptives’ which act by killing human embryos are to be barred from receiving diplomas in sexual and reproductive health even if they undertake the necessary training according to new guidelines.
Under new rules issued by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) earlier this year these doctors and nurses are also to be barred from membership of the faculty and from specialty training.
The FSRH is a faculty of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists established on the 26th March 1993 as the Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. In 2007 it changed its name to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.
Whilst many contraceptives act by preventing the union of sperm and egg, some, including most IUCDs (intrauterine contraceptive devices) and the morning-after pill EllaOne (ulipristal acetate), also act by preventing the implantation of an early embryo. In other words they are embryocidal or abortifacient, rather than truly contra-ceptive.
Many doctors, of all faiths and none, have a moral objection to destroying human life and wish therefore to avoid using drugs or methods which act after fertilisation.
In fact this position was once held by the British Medical Association (BMA) when it adopted the Declaration of Geneva in 1948. This states, ‘I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception even against threat’.
But in 1983 the words ‘from the time of conception’ were amended to ‘from its beginning’ due to sensitivities about increasing medical involvement in abortion. The word 'beginning' was left undefined, giving doctors the opportunity to argue, contrary to the biological reality, that early human life was not actually human life at all.
Now it seems that doctors who wish to abide by the original wording of the Declaration of Geneva are to be barred from practising in certain medical specialties. This is an extraordinary about face.
The Faculty may argue that they are not barring doctors and nurses from practising, but simply from obtaining certain qualifications. But as many job appointments will be conditional on applicants having these qualifications this is effectively also a bar on practice.
Interestingly doctors who have a moral objection to abortion are still able to complete the Faculty’s qualifications because the Abortion Act 1967 contains a conscience clause which protects them. But there is no law protecting those who object to destroying human embryos.
Many Christians believe that every human life, regardless of age, sex, race, degree of disability or any other biological characteristic, is worthy of the utmost respect, wonder, empathy and protection.
This is based on the idea, taught in the Bible, that human beings are made in the image of God. In a society which is becoming more hostile to Christian faith and values it is perhaps not surprising that we are seeing institutional discrimination of this kind.
Perhaps it is time for Christian doctors and nurses, and others who share their prolife views, to set up an alternative training programme.