CONSIENTIOUS OBJECTION IN MEDICAL PRACTICE

M E A response to GMC consultation

There is strong support for a right to conscientious objection in international law and historic ethical declarations.

This should be made clear alongside the reference to article 9 of the ECHR in the footnote on page 2.

.The right of conscience has been recognised as a fundamental human right in all of the post-Second World War international human rights instruments (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), article 18; European Convention on Human Rights (1950), article 9; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), article 18)

.The of the World Medical Association (WMA) (1949) says that ‘a doctor must always maintain the highest standards of professional conduct’ and that it is unethical to ‘collaborate in any form of medical service in which the doctor does not have professional independence’.

The WMA Declaration of Geneva (1948) (Physician’s Oath) states, ‘I will practise my profession with conscience and dignity… I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity’

.Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights says: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’

The European Commission has held in 1993 that a right to conscientious objection can be derived from article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (See ICCPR Article 8 and 18) supports the right to conscientious objection

( Response based on an international summary )

 

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