A Christian-run GP surgery has been criticised for posting a notice saying some of its doctors do not prescribe the morning-after pill on grounds of conscience.
But Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, defended the practice saying it is right that doctors are legally allowed to take such a stance.
He also commented that to force doctors to go against their conscience would “undermine their professional integrity”.
The Links Medical Practice in Mottingham, south London, posted a message on its door saying that if “a consenting doctor is not available” to prescribe the morning-after pill, patients should contact a local clinic or chemist.
The issue came to light after one patient left the practice because of the notice.
The morning-after pill can cause an early stage abortion.
Women can legally access the morning-after pill in the UK, through buying it over the counter without prescription in most pharmacies or with a prescription from sexual health clinics and walk-in centres.
However Dr Saunders points out in his blog that just because patients can legally access the morning-after pill it does not mean every doctor has a duty to supply it.
He said: “Doctors should not be forced to provide treatments or interventions that they believe are unethical, ineffective or inappropriate.”
“To force them to do so would be to undermine their professional integrity. They are not simply rubber stamps.”
He added: “Instead reasonable accommodation should be made. And thankfully both the law and the GMC guidance currently allow for that”.
Audrey Simpson, Family Planning Association’s chief executive, said other women should consider leaving the surgery in response to the notice.
She said: “Leaving will send out a message to them that women have the right to access emergency contraception.”
General Medical Council guidance states: “You may choose to opt out of providing a particular procedure because of your personal beliefs and values, as long as this does not result in direct or indirect discrimination against, or harassment of, individual patients or groups of patients.”
It goes on to say that if a health practitioner wishes to exercise a conscientious objection to providing a service, he or she must make patients aware of this “by making sure that any printed material about your practice and the services you provide explains if there are any services you will not normally provide because of a conscientious objection.”