The Gospel Coalition

The Story: In the UK, Christians are protesting new regulations that would force doctors to prescribe treatments and perform procedures---such as abortifacients and gender reassignment surgery---that go against their consciences.

The Background: The General Medical Council, which oversees the licensing of physicians, has issued guidance warning that it would be "discriminatory" for doctors not to prescribe either the pill or morning-after pill because they disagree with people having sex before marriage.

Bishop Tom Williams of the Archdiocese of Liverpool told the Daily Mail that the new guidelines would discriminate against "certain groups of doctors" and risked creating an "atmosphere of fear" in which doctors would be "prohibited from ever expressing their own religion."

Doctors can refuse to carry out some treatments on ethical grounds, such as abortions. But the guidelines say they must always ensure patients are referred on to a colleague who is willing to do the procedure.

However, not all procedures are covered by the conscientious objector protections. The guidelines explain that,
The exception to this is gender reassignment since this procedure is only sought by a particular group of patients (and cannot therefore be subject to a conscientious objection - see paragraph 5). This position is supported by the Equality Act 2010 which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment.

Why It Matters: The UK's Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of nine protected characteristics, including gender reassignment. The result of such legislation, as the General Medical Council is making clear, is that doctors who refuse to mutilate the sexual organs of a human being can be forced out of the healing profession.
As bioethicist Wesley J. Smith says,

Across the West, I am convinced that the Medical and Political Establishments want to drive "pro life" and orthodox-believing "Christian (or Muslim, if they go that far) medical professionals that disagree with the current morality out of medicine. On a broader point, the practice of medicine is being transformed before our very eyes from a "healing profession" into a technocracy in which "service providers" facilitate patient lifestyle choices and fulfill personal desires almost as much as treating and preventing illnesses and injuries.


R. Delaney

May 31, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Oh, then I guess such legislation in the UK is quite unnecessary and purposeless.

And if you're a Christian doctor, you really shouldn't be puzzled by "all the fuss". If you are, perhaps you're puzzled by what it means to follow Christ...


May 31, 2012 at 07:38 PM

Wow that was rude and completely uncalled for.

His point was that gender reassignment is a specialty and a person wouldn't be doing it otherwise. So how would it be a forced practice?

[...] as abortifacients and gender reassignment surgery—that go against their consciences.” The Gospel Coalition gives its take on the [...]

Gillian Wildman

May 30, 2012 at 07:43 AM

Many Christian doctors in the UK (including myself) are puzzled by all the fuss over gender reassignment surgery. It's a highly specialised field, not something undertaken by any old surgeon. Those doctors who are qualified to perform such operations are presumably those who are happy to do so. Anyone with a conscientious objection would not take on such a job (I hope!).


May 30, 2012 at 03:05 AM

I must say I'm with you here. Not only should doctors not be forced to perform operations that go against their conscience, for whatever reason- I also can't imagine that it's good for the patient, either, to be operated on by someone who doesn't want to do it.


June 2, 2012 at 08:18 AM

Dr Wildman, Thanks for your helpful comment, which answers the question I had as I read this piece.