Catholic Universe-The Catholic Times
Pro-life groups have claimed that the recent drop in applications to midwifery courses could be rectified by enshrining conscientious objection.
Recent figures show that there has been a 35 per cent drop in the number of applicants to midwifery courses since 2013. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which analysed the latest Ucas data for England, said the biggest reduction was in those aged 21 or over.
In 2013, more than 12,000 people aged over 21 applied for a midwifery course in England, but by 2017 that figure had dropped to just 6,700 – a decrease of 45 per cent. . . [Full text]
With the Brexit legislation receiving the lion’s share of attention in Parliament, there has been little to no coverage on the progression of any other bill in recent months. This is usually the time of year where activity on private members’ bills (which have only a small chance of passing into law) winds down. However, with the current Parliamentary Session being extended to two years to deal with the magnitude of the Brexit legislation, we are in extraordinary times.
There is one such private member’s bill before the House of Lords which has seen a surprising ramp-up in activity over the last few months. The bill is sponsored by Baroness O’Loan – a widely respected legal mind from Northern Ireland who was the first Police Ombudsman – and will have its committee stage today, Friday. It is focused on the relatively niche area of protection of conscience for healthcare professionals. . . [Full text]
Pro-choice groups have condemned an attempt to create new laws that would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to take part in abortions on moral grounds.
A private bill going through the House of Lords that would expand rights of conscientious objection for healthcare professionals has been dismissed as unnecessary by abortion providers and campaigners.
Those in favour of the bill, sponsored by the Northern Irish crossbench peer Nuala O’Loan, insisted their aim was not to restrict abortion but to uphold freedom of belief and religion they claim is under threat in hospitals since a contentious supreme court ruling in 2014. . . [Full text]
Catholic News Agency
LONDON – A bill in the British Parliament would clarify the rights of conscientious objection for medical professionals, protecting them from participating in medical procedures to which their beliefs are opposed.
The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Act 2017 would defend healthcare workers in England and Wales from partaking in the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, IVF or similar fertility treatments, or abortion if they have a conscientious objection to doing so.
The bill, now at the committee stage in the House of Lords, was introduced by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, a peer from Northern Ireland, who believes medical professionals should not be discriminated against for their personal beliefs. . . [Full Text]
The House Magazine
Fiona Bruce, MP
Accommodation of conscientious objection is a long-respected matter of liberty and equality in this country. This respect should be as relevant today as ever, writes Fiona Bruce
The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill is scheduled for Committee Stage in the House of Lords this Friday, and I have been watching its progress with interest. The Bill’s sponsor is Baroness Nuala O’Loan – a widely respected legal mind in the Lords who served as first Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland, and is a former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Inquiry. Among those who spoke in favour of the Bill at Second Reading were the former Conservative Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, and senior Conservative Peers Lord Elton, Baroness Eaton and the renowned surgeon, Lord McColl of Dulwich. . . [Full text]
A Northern Ireland-based peer is championing a bill which aims to protect the freedom of conscience for medical professionals.
The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill is designed to grant protection to healthcare workers – including doctors, midwives, nurses, and pharmacists – who object on grounds of conscience to being asked to participate in end-of-life treatment.
In practice, this could see medics opting out of any involvement in abortion services.
Professionals could be excused from taking part in the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, and could also refuse to participate in any aspect of IVF treatment. . . [Full text]
Doctors are expected to have integrity. Does this not entail that they should do what they think is right?
Something interesting is happening in the House of Lords. Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill, now at the committee stage, has put on the agenda an issue which well-deserves to be there. Its point is simple: all healthcare professionals should have a legal right to opt out of certain procedures which they find objectionable. It specifies three areas: abortion provision, withdrawal of life-saving treatment, and actions relating to certain reproductive technologies.
This is not particularly radical; the 1967 Abortion Act already explicitly protects conscientious objection. Indeed, it could even be asked why this should, in a country with a tradition of liberty like ours, even be up for debate. Do we really need law to protect the right to conscience?
Sadly, it has become clear that we do. Armchair philosophers have been discussing the merits of forcing doctors and nurses to act against their conscience (or lose their jobs) over the last few years. Many papers against conscience have been published. . . [Full Text]
Is it really such a radical idea to think healthcare professionals should not be forced to help in procedures to which they morally object?
Prof. Andrew Tettenborn
Just over three years ago, two devout Catholic midwives lost an important claim in the courts. Disciplined for declining to make arrangements for abortions in a Glasgow maternity ward, they sued, saying that the Abortion Act’s conscience clause allowed them to refuse to participate in the procedure. The Supreme Court, combining an impressive capacity for casuistry with a matching unconcern for moral consistency, chose to define “participation” as meaning carrying out the abortion, and nothing more. Organising, managing and aiding other people to do it was quite different; there was no right to refuse to do it.
The point matters a great deal. Many NHS hospitals now put abortion and other controversial procedures out to tender (a matter itself a cause for concern, though not here), and so organisation rather than participation is increasingly what will be demanded from often unwilling staff. . . [Full Text]
Baroness Nuala O’Loan has introduced a Parliamentary Bill which, if passed, could allow medical professionals to opt out of providing any abortion services.
The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Act 2017 would also excuse medics from participating in the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.
The Private Member’s Bill would apply to all medical professionals on the registers of the General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Health and Care Professions Council and the General Pharmaceutical Council in England and Wales.
The Bill states that employers “must not discriminate against or victimise” an employee who conscientiously objects. It has passed its second reading in the House of Lords and will now proceed to the committee stage. . . [Full Text]
A bill to cover conscientious objections in medicine would avoid losing valuable members of staff
Lord Mackay of Clashfern
A fortnight ago Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords. It now heads to committee stage where it will be scrutinised further.
A large campaign backing the bill has argued that it is necessary to legally safeguard the conscience of all medical professionals, many of whom do not currently have clear rights guaranteed in law. The bill marks out three areas where conscience rights would receive explicit protection, namely: the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment; activity under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990; and in the context of abortion.
I spoke in support of the bill during the debate prior to the second reading, where many raised concerns about an “unreasonably broad” ability to conscientiously object to the provision of abortion. As far as I am concerned, there is a very simple analysis of this. . . [Full Text]