by Steven Ertelt
March 17, 2008
London, England (LifeNews.com) — A governmental agency in England that regulates physicians has set forth new guidelines saying doctors have to divorce their personal religious or moral beliefs from their medical practice. For pro-life physicians it means that must divulge their view to women who are considering an abortion.
The new regulations come at a time when pro-life groups, doctors organizations and the Bush administration are trying to stop a board accreditation requirement that doctors refer for abortions.
The new General Medical Council guidelines were prompted by the number of times physicians called the agency for help, officials indicated.
The new guidelines appear to target doctors like Dr. Tammie Downes, from West Cornwall, who refuses to sign forms required for an abortion and has helped change the mind of many of her patients to keep their baby.
Jane O’Brien, the GMC’s head of standards and medical ethics, opposed that kind of activity and said doctors should refer patient to another physician.
She tod the London Daily Mail "there are relatively few doctors who wouldn’t refer patients on to another person."
"But they need to make sure they are letting the patient make their own choice and they are not coercing them," she added.
John Jenkins, chairman of the GMC standards and ethics committee, told Reuters the guidelines — which also require doctors to remove veils or perform circumcisions despite their religious views — are meant to protect patients.
"We’ve had more calls from GPs aware that religious and moral issues have been more at the front of the public’s mind in the last couple of years," Jenkins said.
"The guidance balances doctors’ right to practice in accordance with their views and beliefs, and patients’ right to receive timely and appropriate medical care," he said. "We are clear that doctors must not mislead patients about the options available to them or leave them with nowhere to turn."
In the United States, the Bush administration and pro-life groups have asked a national group for OBGYNs to not discriminate against pro-life doctors who don’t want to be involved in doing or promoting abortions.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists plans a review of the policy today and pro-life doctors are worried the college’s board could adopt it and doing or promoting abortions could become formally linked to physician board certification.
That could wind up making many pro-life obstetricians quit their jobs rather than be forced to do abortions.