Personal Experience in Switzerland in 1989
THE FUTURE OF OBSTETRICS AND GYNAECOLOGY: The Fundamental Right To
Practice and be Trained According to Conscience: An International Meeting
of Catholic Obstetricians and Gynaecologist
Organised by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations
(FIAMC) and by MaterCare International
(MCI)Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Health Pastoral Care
ROME, June 17th-20th, 2001
Reproduced with permission
I always wanted to become a general practitioner. In 1986, when I was
about to finish my specialisation for genaral practitioner, I was working
for eighteen months in a Gynecology and Obstetrics department and I realized
the following facts:
- 1. It is very interesting to practice Gynecology/Obstetrics
according to the principles of the Holy See.
- 2. Many women would like to be treated by gynecologists who are not
implicated in abortion and are familiar with natural family planning.
Unfortunately they hardly can find any.
- 3. There is more need for catholic Gynecologists than for general
practitioners. Thats why I changed my mind and tried to become
The Swiss curriculum for specialisation in gynecology and obstetrics
requests at least one year to be spent in a University-clinic or in a
so-called A-level clinic. I applied in 1986 for a training place in Lucerne,
which at that time was the only A-level clinic, where no abortions were
done. I kept reminding the head of the gynecology department until I was
back from a 2-years stay in a mission hospital in Lesotho. In 1989, after 3
years patience, I got the answer, that there was no training place available
before another 4 years.
Not satisfied with this outcome, I wrote to all the other fourteen
A-level clinics of Switzerland an application with the mention, that I could
not perform abortions for reasons of conscience. Eight of them refused me
right away or offered a place only after two or more years. Some of them
claimed, that in a democracy one had to respect the decisions made by the
majority of the citizens or that they had to offer certain services like
abortion according the list of duties for their hospital.
Six head of departments invited me for a personal interview, but no one
accepted me. Three of them refused me because of my attitude concerning
contraception and sterilisation; the forth one because of my refusal to do
In Vitro Fertilisation; the fifth one was favorable to me, but he draw back
because his staff did not accept me; and the last one tried by all means to
persuade me to change either my attitude or my project to become a
gynecologist/obstetrician, so that it would not be he, who refused me the
training place. He finally preferred to be understaffed than to have a
staff-member refusing to do abortions.
That is why I remained a general practitioner. Ever since I have heard
from many other young physicians in Switzerland, who for the same reasons as
I did not start, gave up or had to give up their training for specialisation
in gynecology and obstetrics.
Rome, June 18th-20th 2001