According to a recent document published by the U.K.’s General Medical Council, physicians will be required to post any ethical objections they may have toward morally charged medical interventions such as abortion, sex reassignment surgery, artificial procreation and certain cosmetic surgeries.
While I oppose any attempt to obligate physicians to refer for these procedures, I agree that objections should be advertised. It is an essential part of informed choice and a recognition of women’s ability to choose their care providers. A refusal to refer to an abortion provider or to prescribe the birth control pill should never come as a surprise to a patient, particularly if that patient is facing a personal crisis. There are no winners when personal values end up in court and a little choice in one’s caregiver spares imposing an arbitrator’s choice on whose values are more right than other’s.
In cases such as these, it is always helpful to turn the tables around and wonder what would happen if we were denied a medical procedure based on our physician’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Say, if my physician was opposed to blood transfusions or organ transplant. Like abortion, these procedures can be inadvisable for a variety of medical reasons. But what if my physician’s only basis for refusal was a religious position I didn’t share? Wouldn’t I want to know? Say, before I was exsanguinating?
Let me be clear. As Andrea wrote so eloquently, I don’t think that opposing abortion is exclusively a religious view. But if a physician is to oppose abortion systematically for religious reasons her patients should be aware of it.