Medical Council updates ethical guide to avert conflict

Medical Council confirmed its Ethics Working Group is continuing to work on ethical guide

Irish Medical Times

Valerie Ryan

The Medical Council has deleted four paragraphs of its ethical guide and amended another to remove “any conflict” with the newly introduced legis­lation facilitating for the medical termination of pregnancy. . . [T]he Council confirmed its Ethics Working Group is continuing to work on the Guide. . . . [Full text]

World Medical Association urged to change policy against euthanasia, assisted suicide

Canadian & Royal Dutch Medical Association want censure dropped

Sean Murphy*

The President of the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations has disclosed that the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Royal Dutch Medical Association (RDMA) have asked the World Medical Association to change its policy against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.

The WMA issued a Declaration on Euthanasia in 19871 and a Resolution on Euthanasia  in 2002;2  they are now identical. The WMA Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide was made in 1992 and reaffirmed in 2005 and 2015:

Physician-assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically. However the right to decline medical is a basic right of the patient, and the physician does not act unethically even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.3

Writing to the President of the World Medical Association, Dr. John Lee stated that the CMA and RDMA suggested that existing policy be replaced with the following:

8. The WMA does not support euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, but WMA does not condemn physicians who follow their own conscience in deciding whether or not to participate in these activities, within the bounds of the legislation, in those jurisdictions where euthanasia and/or physician assisted dying are legalized.

9. No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide against their personal moral beliefs. Equally, no conscientiously objecting physician should be forced to refer a patient directly to another physician. Jurisdictions that legalize euthanasia or physician assisted suicide must provide mechanisms that will ensure access for those patients who meet the appropriate requirements. Physicians, individually or collectively, must not be made responsible for ensuring access.4

Dr. Lee also expressed opposition to a planned revision to the Declaration of Oslo concerning abortion, which, he said, would require objecting physicians to refer for abortions and even to provide them.  However, he commented at greater length on the proposed change to WMA policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Based on the Canadian experience, acceptance of the ethical neutrality of medically-assisted death has resulted in almost immediate challenges for physicians who are unable to refer because of moral, religious, or ethical concerns. It is a serious problem, with physicians put in the impossible position of having to choose between their conscience and being allowed to continue to care for their patients.4

The Canadian roots of the CMA/RDMA proposal

Dr. Lee’s observations about developments in parts of Canada are accurate.  The text of paragraph 8 is very similar to the CMA resolution used by the CMA Board of Directors as the basis for reversing CMA policy against euthanasia and assisted suicide. . . [Full Text]

Victory For Christian Pharmacists’ Conscience Rights In Great Britain

Cross Rhythms

Heather Bellamy

Heather Bellamy spoke with Ciaran Kelly, the Head of Communications at the Christian Institute, about the importance of reasonable accommodation in balancing people’s rights, and how after consultation, the General Pharmaceutical Council have chosen to continue to value their pharmacists faith and conscience, as well as patient care.

For the past few months, Christian pharmacists in Great Britain anticipated having to choose between their faith and their job, but after a huge campaign and the threat of legal action from the Christian Institute, their regulatory body has backed away from ending conscience rights. Heather Bellamy spoke with Ciaran Kelly, the Head of Communications, at the Christian Institute, to find out more. . . [Full text]

 

To dispense or not to dispense…

Eastern Daily Press

Nick Conrad

I was drawn to a news story which snuck under the radar this week. This issue is a classic ‘contract’ versus ‘conscience’ battle facing some pharmacists, which was brilliantly highlighted on the BBC Radio Norfolk Sunday Breakfast programme.

I pen this week’s article with genuine interest, a will to impartially provoke a healthy debate rather than trying to influence opinion. In a U-turn on proposed policy, Britain’s pharmacy regulator has declared that pharmacists should not be forced to dispense medicine and substances against their consciences. This includes drugs such as the morning-after pill or even contraceptives. The pharmacist can object if it goes against their religious beliefs, forcing the customer to go elsewhere. . . [Full text]

 

GPhC improves guidance on Pharmacists’ conscience rights

Christian Concern

Christian Concern reported earlier this year that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) had amended its guidance to remove any protection for pharmacists and their legal right to freedom of conscience.

Christian Concern provided submissions to the GPhC stating very clearly that not only did pharmacists enjoy a legal right to freedom of conscience, but also that the public had a right to receive services from pharmacists who share their set of values. . . [Full text]

 

U.K. pharmacy regulator abandons proposal to strip conscience protections

CatholicPhilly/Catholic News Service

Simon Caldwell

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — In a U-turn of proposed policy, Britain’s pharmacy regulator has declared that Catholic pharmacists should not be forced to dispense lethal drugs against their consciences.

The General Pharmaceutical Council, the regulatory body that sets professional standards for the industry throughout the country, has backed away from controversial proposals to abolish the right of people with religious convictions to conscientiously object to dispensing the morning-after pill, contraceptives and hormone-blocking drugs used by transsexual patients.

In new guidance issued June 22, it says: “Professionals have the right to practice in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs as long as they act in accordance with equalities and human rights law and make sure that person-centered care is not compromised.” . . . [Full text]

 

Conscience win for Christian pharmacists

The Christian Institute

Christian pharmacists will remain free to do their jobs in line with their consciences after regulators published new guidance recognising the “positive” role of religion.

Earlier draft guidance by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) could have forced Christians to provide access to abortifacient or hormone-blocking drugs.

The guidance now states: “Pharmacy professionals have the right to practise in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs”. The changes were made after The Christian Institute threatened the GPhC with legal action and hundreds of Christian professionals raised objections. . . [Full text]

 

How GPhC’s religious standards compare with doctors

Lawyer Noel Wardle explains the impact and context of the controversial standards for pharmacists

C+D

Annabelle Collins

All pharmacists will be aware of standard 3.4 in the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) previous standards of conduct, ethics and performance – often referred to as the “conscience clause”. This clause gave pharmacists an opt-out for providing services and medicines that are contrary to their “religious and moral beliefs”.

However, the regulator adopted new standards in May – called the ‘standards for pharmacy professionals’ – and pharmacists and employers alike need to think about the implications. . . [Full text]

 

Will removing a ‘conscience clause’ force Christian pharmacists to dispense morning-after pills?

Christian Today

Harry Farley

Pharmacy regulators have removed a ‘conscience clause’ from their standards code meaning Christians and other religious people could be forced to ensure that contraceptives and other medicines are handed out against their beliefs.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GphC) said allowing personal religious beliefs and values to dictate dispensing practice was ‘not compatible’ with a ‘person-centred care’ they wanted to offer.

The regulatory body that sets standards across British pharmacists said they wanted to ensure patient care is ‘not compromised by religious belief’. . . [Full text]

 

Scarborough health practitioners stand against assisted suicide

Doctors seek protection from policy requiring them to make referral

Scarborough Mirror

Dominik Kurek

A number of local healthcare practitioners fear their right to choose whether or not they participate in providing assisted suicide to patients is being taken away from them.

Assisted suicide became legal in Canada in June 2016.

The Canadian law to allow medical assistance in dying (MAID) followed a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down the law forbidding physician assisted dying, saying the old law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal law, however, makes no indication that healthcare professionals would have to participate in MAID.

But, a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy requires practitioners who conscientiously object to MAID to provide an effective referral to a non-objecting, available and accessible physician, nurse practitioner or agency. . . [Full text]