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Doctors who refuse to perform abortions "denied promotions"

Thu 21 Jul 2016
By Alex Williams

A new report produced by a Christian MP claims doctors who refuse to perform abortions are being denied promotions.

The document has said medical professionals are under "widespread and increasing pressure" to participate in the procedures.

The All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group heard claims from the British Medical Association (BMA) which suggest those who object to being involved in abortions face a glass ceiling.

The APPG also received reports that those who object to being involved in abortions are not being allowed to pursue work within specialist fields of medicine.

It is now calling on the government to ensure the conscience clause within the 1967 Abortion Act, which ensures doctors who object to terminations on ethical grounds can refuse to take part without any consequences, is upheld.

The chair of the group and Christian Fiona Bruce MP told Premier: "Unless [the clause is upheld), many of them will opt-out of being involved in the profession at all or will feel pressured into making career choices which mean they don't go into the specialisms or advance in the specialisms of their choice."

Fiona Bruce MP
Left to right: Laurence Robertson MP; Jim Shannon MP; Fiona Bruce MP; Mary Glindon MP; Rob Flello MP; Maria Caulfield MP.

 

Executive officer of the Right to Life group and Christian, Peter Williams, has demanded a new law to ensure doctors opposed to performing abortions are offered better protection.

Speaking with Premier, he said: "Conscience protections in the law and in professional guidance simply have not been sufficient to protect, not just doctors but also nurses, midwives and others in ancillary positions, from often having to participate... in the process of abortion."

The Christian campaign group, CARE, branded the findings "highly alarming" and urged "immediate action" to follow up recommendations made by the APPG.

UK Director Gareth Davies said: "It is... completely wrong that people who work in the medical profession who hold pro-life views should face career discrimination. This is hardly the mark of a truly diverse society.

"This completely undermines the whole basis of the conscience clause in the abortion legislation which was intended to prevent such eventualities.

"The lack of proper observance of the conscience clause and the fact it is at times being ignored completely only makes it more urgent that the principle of reasonable accommodation is included in UK law."

Speaking with Premier, the BMA said it would not be commenting on the APPG's report.

Jim Shannon is a Democratic Unionist Party Christian MP for Strangford and on the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life group.

He told Premier's News Hour about Reasonable Accommodation, something they want introduced.

"The principle of Reasonable Accommodation, that means if you do not wish to give advice on abortion or abortion provision, you can be absolved from doing so, in other words you don't have to do it if you don't want to, if your conscience won't let you."

He went on: "I think what we're seeking to ensure if those that have a conscience, a worry about the abortion provision, in all conscience can't give that direction to a patient, that they have a method that they can exercise their right to conscience."

Premier has contacted the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for a response to this story.

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking to Peter Williams:

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speak to Jim Shannon here:

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