Conscientious objectors barred from qualification in UK

Xavier Symons
2 May 2014
Reproduced with Permission

The UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists has barred doctors and nurses from qualifications if they refuse to prescribe or administer contraceptives to patients. Under college regulations concerning conscientious objection, objecting trainees will not be give their awards, despite having completed all the other requirements of the syllabus.

The regulations, confirmed in updated guidelines released in February, state that,

"Completing the syllabus (theory and practical) means willingness during training to prescribe all forms of hormonal contraception, including emergency, and willingness to advise and refer, if appropriate, for all intrauterine methods. Failure to complete the syllabus renders candidates ineligible for the award of an FSRH Diploma."

The restrictions effect not just Roman Catholic professionals but practitioners of other Christian denominations as well. In an interview with the Telegraph, Dr. Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said, "If you look at non-Catholic Christians there would be many who may have no objection to contraception and see it as responsible behaviour but who draw the line at prescribing contraceptives which are meant to be taken after fertilisation".

David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, said, "This is a form of unjust discrimination against professionals on the basis of their personal beliefs and, indirectly, a form of discrimination against patients who share the same beliefs and who may wish to be treated by professionals with a sympathetic understanding of their position."