A sign of hope in the next generation of doctors

The Journal of Medical Ethics has published a survey of 733 medical students carried out by Dr Sophie Strickland. The survey shows that increasing numbers of medical students are opposed to carrying out abortions. Details can be found on this link.

In a heavily biased article in the Guardian (18/7/11) Dr Strickland says her findings are worrying in the light of increasing demand for abortion. She also notes that the majority of those who object on conscience grounds are Muslim.

The ProLife Alliance would like to remind Dr Strickland that the vast majority (96.96%) of abortions are carried out for so-called mental health reasons, which is a catch-all term for ‘social reasons’. It is hardly surprising that this will be abhorrent to many people, including doctors of whatever religious belief system.

The Department of Health is quoted as saying that “patients’ clinical needs always come first and it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief.” As the Department of Health is responsible for producing statistics on abortion, they should be aware that it is rare for there to be a clinical need for abortion. Also, as it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief, surely this should include the religion or beliefs of doctors, including Muslim doctors, who are particularly singled out in Dr Strickland’s comments.

From their comments, both Dr Strickland and the Department of Health appear to be under the impression that abortion is ‘subject to demand’ rather than regulation under the Abortion Act. The fact that abortion rates are increasing is a cause for concern, not that the next generation of doctors is less willing to condone them. Abortion, which ends the lives of around 200,000 unborn children each year in England and Wales, should never be treated as a consumer product.

The ProLife Alliance upholds the right to freedom of conscience for all involved in abortion, whether on religious or humanitarian grounds. It is worth noting that freedom of conscience is taken into account in the political field, where abortion is subject to a free vote. This is a major disparity which should be remedied.

A spokesman for the ProLife Alliance says “we are delighted that our future doctors are far more aware than the previous generation of the true nature of abortion, and more inclined to act accordingly. This is a real sign of hope for the future.”