Conscience makes doctors ‘ineligible’ for medical diploma

New medical guidelines discriminate against religious

Catholic doctors in England who refuse to provide emergency contraception have been ruled “ineligible” for certain qualifications granted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The exclusion comes as part of new guidelines handed down by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), a department of RCOG.

Under the amended guidelines, for doctors or nurses hoping to gain an FSRH Diploma, “completing the syllabus means willingness during training to prescribe all forms of hormonal contraception, including emergency, and willingness to counsel and refer, if appropriate, for all intrauterine methods…Doctors who hold moral or religious reservations about any contraceptive methods will be unable to fulfil the syllabus for the membership … or specialty training…This will render them ineligible for the award of the examination or completion of training certificates.”

Criticising the move, David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, the Roman Catholic institute in Oxford, described the bar as “a form of unjust discrimination against professionals on the basis of their personal beliefs and, indirectly, a form of discrimination against patients who share the same beliefs and who may wish to be treated by professionals with a sympathetic understanding of their position”.