Christian groups have welcomed decisions made by the British Medical Association Annual Representative Meeting over motions on abortion and euthanasia.
According to Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, Motion 328, proposed by the Harrogate division, called for the meeting to support the universal availability of non-directive counselling for women considering abortion.
Proposing the motion, Dr Mark Pickering also said the counselling should be in accordance with National Health Service (NHS) standards and independent of the abortion provider if women so wished. The meeting also condemned the picketing and intimidation of abortion services.
Motion 329 called for the meeting to state that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is unacceptable. This was proposed by the Greenwich and Bromley divisions. However, after a passionate debate the motion was not passed.
Motion 332, brought by members of the pressure group Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD) — which is closely linked with Dignity in Dying — called for the BMA to adopt a neutral position on ‘assisted dying’.
After an impassioned debate, Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA, said a position of neutrality would exclude doctors from the debate and urged the meeting to reject the motion.
Dr Saunders, who is also campaign director for lobby group Care Not Killing, which represents more than 40 organisations, said, ‘In rejecting this move the BMA has sent out a strong message that doctors must play a leading role in this debate.
‘It could otherwise be easily swayed by celebrity endorsement and media outlets who have consistently acted as the cheerleaders for assisted suicide and euthanasia. I hope the BMA will now continue its valuable work in campaigning for high quality compassionate care for patients at the end of life’.