Conscience remains the soul of the medical profession – Article published in Mercatornet

In a recent article by David Albert Jones published in…medical-profession/81416 we read that at its General Assembly in October, the World Medical Association adopted a new text for its International Code of Medical Ethics. Some doctors had urged that the Code impose on doctors who conscientiously object to abortion or assisted suicide a duty to refer to a colleague who would provide these interventions. The WMA rejected this view and adopted compromise wording that gives doctors a duty “to minimise disruption to patient care” but does not require referral. The WMA International Code of Medical Ethics can be accessed here:

For ease, the relevant passages are:

4 – The physician must practice with conscience, honesty, integrity, and accountability, while always exercising independent professional judgement and maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct.

29 – This Code represents the physician’s ethical duties. However, on some issues there are profound moral dilemmas concerning which physicians and patients may hold deeply considered but conflicting conscientious beliefs.

The physician has an ethical obligation to minimise disruption to patient care. Physician conscientious objection to provision of any lawful medical interventions may only be exercised if the individual patient is not harmed or discriminated against and if the patient’s health is not endangered.

The physician must immediately and respectfully inform the patient of this objection and of the patient’s right to consult another qualified physician and provide sufficient information to enable the patient to initiate such a consultation in a timely manner.

30 – The physician must engage with other physicians, health professionals and other personnel in a respectful and collaborative manner without bias, harassment, or discriminatory conduct. The physician must also ensure that ethical principles are upheld when working in teams.