RCOG faculty bars prolife doctors from receiving its degrees and
Christian Medical Comment, 23 April, 2014
Reproduced with permission
Dr. Peter Saunders*
Doctors and nurses who have a moral objection to prescribing
'contraceptives' which act by killing human embryos are to be barred
from receiving diplomas in sexual and reproductive health even if they
undertake the necessary training according to
Under new rules issued by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health
(FSRH) earlier this year these doctors and nurses are also to be barred
from membership of the faculty and from specialty training.
The FSRH is a faculty of the Royal
College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists established on the 26th
March 1993 as the Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health
Care. In 2007 it changed its name to the Faculty of Sexual and
Whilst many contraceptives act by preventing the union of sperm and egg,
some, including most IUCDs (intrauterine contraceptive devices) and the
EllaOne (ulipristal acetate), also act by preventing the
implantation of an early embryo. In other words they are embryocidal or
abortifacient, rather than truly contra-ceptive.
Many doctors, of all faiths and none, have a moral objection to
destroying human life and wish therefore to avoid using drugs or methods
which act after fertilisation.
In fact this position was once held by the British Medical Association
(BMA) when it adopted the Declaration of Geneva in 1948. This states, 'I
will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of
conception even against threat'.
But in 1983 the words 'from the time of conception' were amended to 'from its beginning' due to sensitivities about increasing medical
involvement in abortion. The word 'beginning' was left undefined, giving
doctors the opportunity to argue, contrary to the biological reality,
that early human life was not actually human life at all.
Now it seems that doctors who wish to abide by the original wording of
the Declaration of Geneva are to be barred from practising in certain
medical specialties. This is an extraordinary about face.
The Faculty may argue that they are not barring doctors and nurses from
practising, but simply from obtaining certain qualifications. But as
many job appointments will be conditional on applicants having these
qualifications this is effectively also a bar on practice.
Interestingly doctors who have a moral objection to abortion are
still able to complete the Faculty's qualifications because the Abortion
Act 1967 contains a conscience clause which protects them. But there is
no law protecting those who object to destroying human embryos.
Many Christians believe that every human life, regardless of age, sex,
race, degree of disability or any other biological characteristic, is
worthy of the utmost respect, wonder, empathy and protection.
This is based on the idea, taught in the Bible, that human beings are
made in the image of God. In a society which is becoming more hostile to
Christian faith and values it is perhaps not surprising that we are
seeing institutional discrimination of this kind.
Perhaps it is time for Christian doctors and nurses, and others who
share their prolife views, to set up an alternative training programme.