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Leading pro life group responds to survey of medical students' abortion objections

19 July 2011

Leading pro-life group responds to survey of medical students' abortion objections London, 19 July 2011: A leading pro-life group has responded to a survey of UK medical students' objections to abortion and other controversial medical practices.

The survey, published today in the Journal of Medical Ethics (JME) (see notes for editors below), found that nearly half of medical students believed in the right of doctors to conscientiously object to any procedure.

Among the survey's findings were that: * almost a third of students surveyed would not perform an abortion on a disabled unborn child before 24 weeks * a quarter would not perform an abortion for failed contraception before 24 weeks * a fifth would not perform an abortion on a minor who was the victim of rape.

Anthony McCarthy, education manager of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), commented: "While it is encouraging that many medical students are standing up for their autonomy in relation to fundamental moral truths concerning life and fertility, it is troubling that Dr Sophie Strickland, the survey's author, prominent ethicists and professional bodies view such autonomy as a problem. Conscientious objection - unlike abortion - is a fundamental human right protected by international law. The problem is not medical students asserting their rights to conscientious objection, in line with Hippocratic respect for human life, but the distortion of medicine by unethical practices such as abortion."

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education manager, can be contacted on (0)7883 107358 or (020) 7820 3144.

Notes for editors: Conscientious objection in medical students: a questionnaire survey, Strickland SLM J.Med Ethics 2011


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