28 July 2016 | by Rose Gamble

Medical professionals who refuse to take part in abortions are discriminated against, the British Medical Association has told a parliamentary inquiry into the working of the conscientious objection clause in the 1967 Abortion Act, writes Rose Gamble.

Healthcare workers are pressured into taking part in abortions and those who object struggle to progress in their careers, the inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group  found. MPs received evidence from hundreds of individuals and institutions, including abortion providers, and concluded that the conscience clause was not being upheld and medical professionals with a moral objection to abortion were victimised.

“It is almost impossible to progress in a career in obstetrics and gynaecology as a conscientious objector,” said Dr Philip Howard, chairman of the Joint Medical Ethics Committee of the Catholic Medical Association. Those who bring the issue to light may face disciplinary action, he explained, adding that the vast majority would simply be dismissed. “There is a culture of fear that makes conscientious objection very, very difficult,” he said.