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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
Periodicals & Papers



Binning R, Miller JC, Chisholm NA. Attitudes to abortion (Letters). Br Med J. 1974 May 25; 2(5916): 441.

Rex Binning, J.C. Miller, N.A. Chisholm

  • Binning: You have been taken to task by a number of correspondents (4 May, p. 276; 11 May, p. 329) concerning your leading article "Attitudes to Abortion" (13 April, p. 69). They are mainly concerned with only one emotive aspect of the problem. There are others. . .
  • Miller: I am sure that there are many doctors who share my great anxiety for the future of gynaecological departments and even possibly for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists itself if the Lane Report is accepted by the Government and implemented.For doctors generally it would mean that there could be no prospect of specializing in gynaecology for Roman Catholics or for those who hold similar views on the subject of abortion. . .
  • Chisholm: Professor H. C. McLaren (11 May, p. 329) is surely overstating his case when he tries to imply any parallel between the state atrocities of the Nazis and official recognition here of the reality of the need for abortion and the essentially humanitarian nature of the service it provides when abortion is inevitable. Conscience must be seen to have its positive face. The "conscience clause" cannot be regarded as merely a negative one allowing only the right of abstention from helping the distressed. . . .

Banwell GS.  Attitudes to abortion (Letter).  Br Med J. 1974 May 18; 2(5915): 383

G.S. Banwell

  • Your are right to emphasize, in your comments on the report of the Lane Com mittee (13 April, p. 69), that doctors should exercise a humanitarian approach to women seeking advice within the terms of the Abortion Act. But it is not a new situation for doctors to be required to treat illness or injury which has resulted from human folly. Road traffic accidents and voisoning have a much higher mortality and morbidity among women of childbearing age than pregnancy and its sequelae. . .

Berger B. Constitutional law--abortion--private hospital may refuse to perform abortion. St. Louis Univ Law J 1974 Spring;18(3):440-60  PMID: 11663525

Betty Berger

  • Jane Doe is in the first trimester of pregnancy. She has consulted her doctor who agrees that she needs an abortion. Jane Doe's doctor judges that he can safely perform the abortion only in a hospital, but the hospitals where he practices will not allow him to use their facilities for the abortion. Jane Doe and her doctor apply for an injunction to require Bellin Memorial Hospital, a private sectarian hospital, to provide its facilities for the abortion. The hospital has received Hill-Burton funding' and is subject to state regulations. . .

Berl EL. Hill-Burton hospitals after Roe and Doe: can federally funded hospitals refuse to perform abortions?  Rev Law Soc Change 1974 Winter;4(1):83-97 PMID: 11663526

Eugene L. Berl

  • . . . While Roe and Doe guarantee a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy free of state interference within the guidelines set by the Court, they do not guarantee her an absolute right to an abortion. To the extent that states do not subsidize abortions, a woman's ability to obtain an abortion is limited by her ability to pay.6 Financial considerations aside, the freedom from state interference is of little consequence unless facilities suitable for the performance of abortions are located within a reasonable distance of the woman's place of residence and are willing to perform such operations.7 The Court's abortion decisions do not require the states to provide abortion facilities. States need only refrain from "interfering" with a woman's decision to obtain an abortion before their interest in maternal health or unborn life becomes compelling. . .

BMJ Editorial.  Attitudes to abortionBr Med J. 1974 April 13; 2(5910): 69–70

  • Pressure groups supporting one or other attitude to abortion have given doctors and the public little peace since the first drafts of the Abortion Bill appeared nearly ten years ago. Perhaps the most useful result of the exhaustive inquiry by the Lane Committee published last week could be the fading away of so much shrill and emotional argument, for it is now clear that no major change will be made in abortion law in Britain in the foreseeable future. The report is not a whitewashing exercise, however; while the legal changes it recommends are relatively minor (see p. 128) it calls for changes inattitude that are much more fundamental. . .

De Valk A. Private hospitals and abortion: coercion or freedom? Cathol Hosp 1974 Mar-Apr;2(2):136-7 PMID: 11664141


Dickens BM.  The 'conscience clause' and the law on abortion. Nurs Times 1974 Jun 20;70(25):968-9  PMID: 4840315


Horan DJ. Diocesan attorneys' papers--abortion and the conscience clause: current status. Cathol Lawyer 1974 Autumn;20(4):289-302  PMID: 11663555

Denis J. Horan

  • The abortion controversy is currently in the coercive stage. The hard core proponents of legalized abortion are now busy opposing abortion'legislation that keeps abortion in the criminal code, or that seeks to regulate abortion other than through the medical practice act. Their aim is the psychological satisfaction of making abortion not only legal, but morally acceptable to all but the cranky Catholics. Part of the plan includes opposition of conscience clauses. Obviously this latter stance smacks of a betrayal of their promise that their wish was only freedom now, and thus they are somewhat at a disadvantage before the courts, at least as far as the conscience clause is concerned. . .

Hypher TJ,  Gill CGE,  Rawson P. Attitudes to abortion (Letters). Br Med J. 1974 May 25; 2(5916): 448

T. J. Hypher, C.E.G. Gill, P. Rawson

  • Hypher: Your leading article (13 April, p. 69) is indeed disturbing, for its attitude is one of uncritical approval of insidious value changes. It accepts unquestioningly that . . . priority in certain appointments will go to those who see abortion as properly part of clinical gynaecological practice and that a young doctor may find difficulty in taking up a career in gynaecology if he is fundamentally opposed on ethical grounds to abortion. . .

  • Gill: If, as you surmise (leading article, 13 April, p. 69), despite the "shrill and emotional argument" of pressure groups" abortion for a wide range of indications is . . . now an established part of conventional medical practice," nevertheless some provision should be made in British medicine for dedicated aspirants to gynaecological and obstetric practice who can never take part in an abortion programme. . .

  • Rawson: I was truly appalled by your irresponsible leading article (13 April, p. 69). By its very terms of reference the Lane Committee was care fully emasculated beforehand so that, what ever the findings, there would be no mention of the real result of the Abortion Act-namely, the wholesale destruction of human lives, nearly 400 a day . . .

McLaren HC, Scott JS, Miller IM, Nolan JR. Jenkins DM. Attitudes to abortion (Letters). BMJ 1974 May 11;2(5914):329-330 PMID:11664331

Hugh Cameron McLaren, J.S. Scott, Ita M. Miller, J.R. Nolan, David M. Jenkins

  • McLaren: . . . Already the Department of Health and Social Security has chits to be handed to prospective consultants called "job descriptions" which, of course, require a prospective consultant to abort. The Guardian this month also spelt out the warning to trainee consultants in stating that the committee recommended "a more careful watch by hospital authorities on the religious beliefs and ethics of gynaecologists when making consultant appointments.". . .

  • Scott: In your leading article "Attitudes to Abortion" (13 April, p. 69) you sadly misunderstand the present situation. The Lane Conmittee which has recently reported was precluded by its terms of reference from considering the underlying principles behind the Abortion Act-rather in the position of a group inquiring into the Factory Act of 1833 but excluded from considering the principle of child labour. . .

  • Miller:  It is hardly surprising that the Lane Committee found regional disparities in the number of abortions carried out within the N.H.S. The number of abortions in any individual centre must be inversely proportional to the number of doctors with conscientious objections to performing the procedure. . .

  • Nolan:  In your leading article (13 April, p. 69) you state that "a conscience clause was manifestly essential when the Act came in, since many gynaecologists had sincere moral or ethical objections to abortion on some of the grounds introduced by the new Act. Seven years later the situation has changed." How has the situation changed? . . .

  • Jenkins: In your leading article (13 April, p. 69) you report that the Lane Commmittee "clearly understood the dislike felt by many doctors and nurses for abortion procedures and sympathized with it" and you continue "abortion is indeed distasteful to many people." However, you feel that though "a conscience clause was manifestly essential when the Act came in ... seven years later the situation has changed." You do not consider it important to ask why this antipathy exists. . .

McKernan MF. Compelling hospitals to provide abortion services. Cathol Lawyer 1974 Autumn;20(4):317-27  PMID: 11663556

Martin F. McKernan

  • I'd like to talk about four areas: the first is the New Jersey case, Doe v. Bridgeton Hospital Association,' the second is an analysis of the twin opinions of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade2 and Doe v. Bolton,3 vis-dvis the compulsion of health care facilities to provide abortion services, the third is the concept of state action in this particular area, and the fourth is a suggestive preventive matter for health care facilities which desire not to permit the performance of elective abortions. . .

Minattur J.J  Medical termination of pregnancy and conscientious objection. Indian Law Inst 1974 Oct-Dec;16(4):704-9   PMID: 11661572

Joseph J. Minattur

Morris M, Golding P.  Attitudes to abortion (Letters). Br Med J. 1974 May 4; 2(5913): 276

Michael Morris, P. Golding

  • Morris: Your leading article (13 April, p. 69) is a sad reflection of the confused thinking in current medical and national ethics. From the time of Hippocrates until 1967 abortion was unaceptable to the majority of doctors. You admit yourself that it "is indeed distasteful to many people" (you do not suggest why this should be). . .

  • Golding:  In your leading article (13 April, p. 69) on the Lane Committee Report you state: "A conscience clause was manifestly essential when the Act came in, since many gynaecologists had sincere moral or ethical objections to abortion on some of the grounds introduced by the new Act. Seven years later the situation has changed." . .

Neff JM.  Legislation--abortion--Michigan's "conscience clause" Wayne Law Rev 1974 Nov;21(1):175-82 PMID: 11663559

Joan Mahoney Neff

  • . . . This legislation was presumably intended to allow medical professions to act in accordance with their conscience and without fear of reprisals. Few people would disagree with the protection of the right to conscience, especially with regard to a topic as controversial as abortion. However, problems arise when one person's right to conscience interferes with the exercise of another person's constitutional rights. It seems obvious that a doctor or nurse should not be forced to perform an abortion. But if all the nurses or doctors in a public hospital avail themselves of their right to conscience, the women unable to afford private hospitals will be unable to avail themselves of their right to terminate a pregnancy. . .

Shuger NB. Does the state action doctrine compel nominally private hospitals to make abortion services available despite "conscience clauses"? Md Law Forum 1974 Spring;4(3):113-24   PMID: 11663479

Nancy B. Shuger

Silbermann BD. The right of a patient to refuse blood transfusions: a dilemma of conscience and law for patient, physician and hospital. Univ San Fernando Valley Law Review 1974;3(1):91-104  PMID: 11664351

B.D. Silbermann

Stallworthy J, Simms M.  Attitudes to abortions (Letters)Br Med J. 1974 June 1; 2(5917): 501

John Stallworthy, Madeleine Simms

  • Stallworthy:  The light is amber and may soon be red. It is sad to read in a leading article (13 April, p. 69) in a responsible journal with a world-wide distribution that conscience which "was manifestly essential" in 1967 to the clinical application of the Abortion Act is no longer just as important. . .

  • Simms:  Like Professors H. C. McLaren and J. S. Scott (11 May, p. 329), the Nazis thoroughly disapproved of abortion and were determined to stamp it out. Consequently, one of the first laws they passed when they came to power in Germany in 1933 was one increasing the penalties against abortion. . .

White MS.  Attitudes to abortion (Letter). Br Med J. 1974 June 29; 2(5921): 725

Margaret S. White

  • Miss Madeleine Simms, having bracketed by implication Professors H. C. McLaren and J. S. Scott with the Nazis (1 June, p. 501), proceeds to make a series of statements which have little relation to the truth. Let us consider the facts: Among the first Acts the Nazis passed was one permitting mass sterilization of the congenitally abnormal. This was subsequently expanded by scret decrees which permitted the abortion, sterilization, and liquidation of the Jews and the Reich's other "enemies." . . .


Fougerat AJ. Nurse of tomorrow, will you still be master of your conscience? Ir Nurs News 1973 Summer;153:19-24 concl   PMID: 4489208


Fougerat AJ. Nurse of tomorrow, will you still be master of your conscience? Ir Nurs News 1973 Spring;152:21-3 contd PMID: 4488037


Gutman JS. Can hospitals constitutionally refuse to permit abortions and sterilizations? Fam Plann Popul Rep 1973 Dec;2(6):146-8  PMID: 11663517


Moody H. Church, state and the rights of conscience.  PMID: 11663372 Christ Crisis 1973 Jan 8;32(23):292-4



Becker W. Schwest [Duty to loyalty and conscience] Rev 1972 Oct 15;10(10):15-7  [Article in German]  PMID: 4485498


Mildner T. [A question of conscience for Maimonides] Med Klin 1972 Aug 25;67(34):1091-3  [Article in German]  Publication Types: Biography Historical Article Personal Name as Subject: Maimonides PMID: 4561058


UK "Conscience Clause" examined.  Australas Nurses J 1972 Aug;1(14):15 . PMID: 4484371


Schorr TM. Issues of conscience. Am J Nurs 1972 Jan;72(1):61  PMID: 4480893

Thelma M. Schorr

  • A nurse called us recently to say she had accompanied a patient who was admitted to a small private New York hospital for an abortion. "I was appalled and ashamed," she said, "to see how some of the nurses treated those kids, many of them only 14 or 15 years old, from all over the country. It was like Bedlam. They were herded like cattle, given no counseling, no support at a time of such crisis in their young lives." . . .

Walley R.  Conscientious objection to abortion. Br Med J. 1972 October 28; 4(5834): 234.

Robert Walley

  • The injustice caused to patients by the present interpretation of the abortion law has been brought to the attention of the profession and the public. However, the injustice inflicted on a minority of the profession has been given scant attention. In the eight years since graduating from a London teaching hospital I have managed to do the "right jobs," get the required fellowship and membership, and even obtained the B.T.A. (Been To America). However, I now discover that to have a conscientious objection to abortion on demand precludes one from continuing to practise in the specialty in this country. . .


Baruk H. [The prolonged pain of moral conscience after an euthanasia during Hitlerian persecutions.] Ann Med Psychol (Paris) 1971 Mar;1(3):405-7 (Medicolegal study)  [Article in French] PMID: 5558673

Carr CJ.  Obstetric appointments and the Abortion Act. Br Med J. 1971 July 31; 3(5769): 305.

Conor J. Carr

  • As one who left Britain after training there as a gynaecologist, I read with interest the letters of Mr. C. K. Vartan (26 June, p. 767) and the replies (10 July, p. 108). Having been a senior registrar in Oxford, I can substantiate Professor J. A. Stallworthy's statement (10 July, p. 108) that it is possible for men to work in his department without having to perform duties contrary to their conscience. However, it was noticeable that all three replies came from teaching units, where the staffing is such that the presence of one or two people with religious convictions against abortion does not put an undue amount of work on one or two other individuals. . .

Cavanagh D. Legalized abortion: the conscience clause and coercion.  Hosp Prog 1971 Aug;52(8):86-90 PMID: 5561827


Curran WJ. Medical ethics--malpractice and the conscience of the practitioner.  N Engl J Med 1971 Dec 2;285(23):1306-7 PMID: 5113729


Abortion and one nurse's conscience. Nurs Times 1971 Jun;67(22):680-1  PMID: 5580164


Stallworthy JA.  Obstetric appointments and the Abortion Act. Br Med J. 1971 July 31; 3(5769): 305.

J.A. Stallworthy

  • Mr. C. K. Vartan's question (26 June, p. 767) "should not those who will not terminate train for some other branch of medicine?" carries serious implications for doctors and society. Uniformity of practice would be administratively convenient but man's right to live and work according to the dictates of conscience is an asset precious to him and medicine itself. . .