- Abortion objecting healthcare professionals say they face a glass ceiling
- Staff say they are under ‘widespread and pressure’ to perform procedure
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists severely criticised for discriminating against the advancement of students with such objections
Simon Caldwell for the Daily Mail
Doctors who refuse to take part in abortions are suffering increasingly from harassment and discrimination at work, the British Medical Association has told MPs.
Healthcare professionals are complaining to the union that they faced a glass ceiling and were denied promotion if they objected to abortions, a report reveals today.
The parliamentary inquiry also found that staff were under ‘widespread and increasing pressure’ to participate in abortions.
The BMA highlighted the problem in written evidence submitted to MPs into the working of the conscience clause of the 1967 Abortion Act.
Doctors who refuse to take part in abortions are suffering increasingly from harassment and discrimination at work, the British Medical Association has told MPs
The clause states that ‘no person shall be under any duty, whether by contract or by any statutory or other legal requirement, to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection’.
But the inquiry, by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, warned that this conscience clause was not being upheld.
Their report concluded: ‘There is widespread and increasing pressure on healthcare professionals to participate in abortions.
‘The APPG holds that this is, in large part, due to inadequate observance of the current legislation, even in some instances involving a disregard of the Conscience Clause.’
The inquiry also found that promotions were being denied, and access to specialities such as obstetrics and gynaecology were made practically impossible for medical staff with objections to abortion.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which refused to give evidence to the inquiry, was severely criticised for a policy which explicitly discriminates against the advancement of students with such objections.
But Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the largest private chain of abortion clinics in the UK, said that even her organisation allowed some doctors to object.
She said: ‘Their view is respected and they are able to treat those clients that they feel they can treat.’
Healthcare professionals are complaining to the union that they faced a glass ceiling and were denied promotion if they objected to abortions, a report reveals today. The parliamentary inquiry also found that staff were under ‘widespread and increasing pressure’ to participate in abortions (stock photograph)
The BMA said in its submitted evidence: ‘Some doctors have complained of being harassed and discriminated against because of their conscientious objection to abortion.’
MP Fiona Bruce, the chairman of the group, said action must be taken to protect such healthcare professionals.
She said: ‘This report reveals concerning evidence of doctors and other healthcare professionals being harassed, abused, and denied career choices, as a result of seeking to exercise their legal right to conscientiously object to being involved in the abortion process.’
However, Dr Arianne Shahvisi, lecturer in Medical Ethics and Humanities at the University of Sussex, said in her oral evidence that students should not go into medicine if they were not willing to participate in abortions.
She said: ‘If a person finds abortion objectionable, they should not pursue employment in which their only options are to be at one or two removes from abortion provision.’
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