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Christian professor welcomes World Medical Association's decision to protect conscientious objection

by Alex Collett

A proposal that would have required doctors, who object to procedures such as abortion or assisted suicide, to refer the patient to a doctor willing to perform the surgery has been rejected by the World Medical Association (WMA).

The confederation of medical professionals has just updated its Code of International Medical Ethics with an agreement which does not require doctors to refer in the case of a conscientious objection.
The decision is being welcomed by Christian medical professionals, including those at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre. 

It is also being seen as a good day for ethical patient care.

Professor David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, told Premier: "It hasn't surprised me because it's been a long discussion over a long time. 

"But it was in the balance and it's something which is really welcome. 

"It's the result of many concerned people in many countries having stated their objections to this, and said that conscience is important for everyone, not just for Christians, but also people of faith and that has been upheld."

The final text of the code is in line with the open letter to the WMA which was coordinated by the Anscombe Centre and was signed by almost 400 professors and clinicians from across the globe. 

It read: "No doctor should be obliged to provide or facilitate a procedure that, reasonably and in good conscience, they judge to be harmful, discriminatory, unjust or otherwise unethical". 
Professor Jones believes that although "no code is perfect" is definitely "a very good first step".

"And it's also framed very nicely because it's framed in terms of respecting the consciences both of doctors and patients, which is I think the right way to do it," he continued. 

The (WMA) also maintains it's opposition to doctors being forced to refer paitents for assisted suicide and assisted suicide by euthanasia. 

This is in contrast to government policies in countries such as Canada where doctors are now required to refer people for "medical assistance in dying" even if the patients are not dying, and where some doctors are encouraging patients to consider euthanasia even when the patients have not raised the issue themselves. 

Recently Andrea Williams of Christian Concern has spoken out about 23- year-old Shanti De Corte from Belguim who was traumatised after a terror attack in 2016 and died in May after medics agreed she was so depressed that she could be legally euthanised.

Under Belgian law, euthanasia is allowed to a person in 'a medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental pain that cannot be alleviated'. There is no lower age limit.

Andrea said: "It is truly shocking that an otherwise healthy, but traumatised 23-year-old was euthanised rather than cared for. With proper help, she could have lived a long, fulfilling life. This case shows how slippery the slope is once you allow euthanasia in law."

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