Doctors’ leaders clash with pro-shooting group over health checks on gun licence applicants

The Herald

W.N.M.P. Bowern

Apply for a firearms or shotgun licence and your family doctor will be asked by the police if he or she thinks there might any medical reason or ‘concerns’ to refuse to allow you to possess a gun.

A change in the licensing regime last April meant new information sharing processes between GPs and the police were introduced in an attempt to ensure those licensed to possess firearm and shotgun certificates were medically fit to carry sporting guns.

The British Medical Association expressed concerns at the time. This week it has gone further, advising doctors they can refuse to engage in the process if they have a conscientious objection to firearms and telling them if they do agree to provide information they should charge a fee. . . .[Full text]


Embryo Experiments Reveal Earliest Human Development, But Stir Ethical Debate

Shots.  Health News from NPR

Rob Stein

Ali Brivanlou slides open a glass door at the Rockefeller University in New York to show off his latest experiments probing the mysteries of the human embryo.

“As you can see, all my lab is glass — just to make sure there is nothing that happens in some dark rooms that gives people some weird ideas,” says Brivanlou, perhaps only half joking.

Brivanlou knows that some of his research makes some people uncomfortable. That’s one reason he has agreed to give me a look at what’s going on.

His lab and one other discovered how to keep human embryos alive in lab dishes longer than ever before — at least 14 days. That has triggered an international debate about a long-standing convention (one that’s legally binding in some countries, though not in the U.S.) that prohibits studying human embryos that have developed beyond the two-week stage. . . . [Full text]


Cosmetic surgery and conscientious objection

Francesca Minerva


In this paper, I analyse the issue of conscientious objection in relation to cosmetic surgery. I consider cases of doctors who might refuse to perform a cosmetic treatment because: (1) the treatment aims at achieving a goal which is not in the traditional scope of cosmetic surgery; (2) the motivation of the patient to undergo the surgery is considered trivial; (3) the patient wants to use the surgery to promote moral or political values that conflict with the doctor’s ones; (4) the patient requires an intervention that would benefit himself/herself, but could damage society at large.

Minerva F. Cosmetic surgery and conscientious objection. Journal of Medical Ethics. Published Online First: 02 March 2017. doi:10.1136/medethics-2016-103804


Conscientious objection in healthcare and the duty to refer

Christopher Cowley


Although some healthcare professionals have the legal right to conscientiously object to authorise or perform certain lawful medical services, they have an associated duty to provide the patient with enough information to seek out another professional willing to authorise or provide the service (the ‘duty to refer’). Does the duty to refer morally undermine the professional’s conscientious objection (CO)? I narrow my discussion to the National Health Service in Britain, and the case of a general practitioner (GP) being asked by a pregnant woman to authorise an abortion. I will be careful not to enter the debate about whether abortion should be legalised, or the debate about whether CO should be permitted—I will take both as given. I defend the objecting GP’s duty to refer against those I call the ‘conscience absolutists’, who would claim that if a state is serious enough in permitting the GP’s objection in the first place (as is the UK), then it has to recognise the right to withhold any information about abortion.

Cowley C. Conscientious objection in healthcare and the duty to refer.  Journal of Medical  Ethics 2017;43:207-212.