A trainee doctor threatened with dismissal because he refused to refer women for abortions has been vindicated by the General Medical Council (GMC).
The Roman Catholic doctor, who has asked not to be named, was told that he would have to prescribe the ‘morning-after pill’ and refer women for abortions as part of his general practice training.
The doctor explained that his moral objections to these procedures meant that he would advise patients of alternatives and tell them of their right to see another doctor.
His employers subsequently told him that unless he changed his position he risked failing his general practice training and could be struck off the medical register. They went on to report him to the GMC.
However, the GMC confirmed that the doctor was acting in accordance with medical professional rules.
The case was supported by the Thomas More Legal Centre, which also told the doctors’ employers that his actions were protected by human rights and employment legislation.
The Centre’s Director, Neil Addison said: “Though this case has been resolved the Thomas More Legal Centre is concerned at its implications.
“Trainees are particularly vulnerable to pressure from their superiors and it takes a great deal of moral courage for a trainee to stand up for his ethical principles when he is being threatened with reference to the GMC and told that he will not be allowed to pass his professional tests.”
Earlier this year another GP, Tammie Downes, was also cleared by the GMC after she was accused of breaking professional guidelines by discussing alternatives to abortion with patients.
Around one in five doctors refuse to sign abortion referral forms. A recent attempt to force doctors who object to abortion to publicise their views was rejected at the British Medical Association’s annual conference.