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Doctors under fire as planned GMC guidelines threaten faith
By James Kelly
Leading Catholic figures have expressed concerns about new proposed guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC) that puts into question the rights of medical professionals not to perform certain procedures due to conscientious objection.
Instead, they warn that an atmosphere of fear and restriction surrounding one’s religion could become the norm in medical practice.
Catholics are being encouraged to respond to the GMC consultation on Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice, which closes on June 13.
In a statement, Bishop Tom Williams, Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Healthcare Reference group on the consultation, warned that “the draft consultation document does not have a balanced or positive appreciation of the value of religion for patients or for the importance of requiring, and hence permitting, doctors to make conscientious ethical decisions.”
“Both religion and con
Proposed framework will create a real danger that a doctor’s conscientious rights will have no place in the treatment of patients scientious objection seem to be treated as problems to be minimised and circumscribed as much as possible,” he stated.
Bishop Williams suggested that “this attitude is incompatible with respect for the religious beliefs of patients and with a commitment to their best interests.
Occasions when doctors may reasonably make known to patients their own religious beliefs clearly require discretion and sensitivity.
“However, an atmosphere of fear in which doctors are prohibited from ever expressing their own religion, or, at the other extreme, are required to advertise in advance that they have certain beliefs, would directly discriminate against certain categories of doctor and indirectly discriminate against patients who may be deprived of a healthcare professional from their community who understands their concerns,” he said.
Professor David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a Catholic academic institute that engages with the moral questions arising in clinical practice and biomedical research, endorsed the Bishop’s statement and urged all to respond to the consultation “so that the right of conscientious objection is strongly defended.”
He told The Universe that “it is in the interests of patients to have conscientious doctors, that is, doctors who have internalised the ethical standards and are able to make ethical judgements.
“Indeed, the possibility of conscientious objection is a necessary consequence of encouraging doctors to act conscientiously.
“It is precisely a commitment to behaving ethically that will lead a doctor sometimes to object to what he or she has been asked to do.”
Professor Jones suggested that “it is not in patients’ interests to have doctors who just follow orders from managers or who automatically give patients whatever they request.
“Doctors must make conscientious decisions about what is in the best interests of their patients.
“Also, if they object to giving a treatment they do not think would help a patient they should not be forced to arrange for someone else to give that treatment,” he continued.
“People certainly have the right to a second opinion but do not and should not have the right to require a doctor to give or arrange a procedure that the doctor does not think is vindicated.”
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Catholic Church in America declares war on President Obama in protest over contraception mandate Page 10
Champion swimmer Tom wows fans as he aims for gold at London 2012
There can’t be many teenagers who have done enough in life to warrant an autobiography, but champion swimmer Tom Daley has.
One of Britain’s gleaming hopes for gold at the London 2012 Olympics, the 18-year-old Catholic athlete this week celebrated his birthday by being crowned European 10 metre platform champion, after a dominant performance in Eindhoven, reclaiming the crown he first won as a 13-year-old.
It was then off to Waterstones in London’s Piccadilly to meet his fans and sign copies of TomDaley: MyStory, described as “the ultimate book for the 2012 Olympics”.
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