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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Support Bill defending conscience rights of medical professionals, Bishop Davies urges Catholics in Easter homily

 

The Bishop of Shrewsbury has urged the people of his Diocese to actively support efforts in Parliament to ensure that the rights of doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists to object to participating in abortions and other procedures against human life are legally protected.

In a homily  preached on Easter morning, the Rt Rev. Mark Davies commended the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill that was introduced into the House of Lords by Baroness O’Loan.

Bishop Davies said that the Bill to protect the rights of medical professionals was important because it came at a time when attempts were being made to stifle the expression of conscience and to restrict the witness of Christians in public life and the professions.

He waredn the congregation gathered into Shrewsbury Cathedral not to be deceived by a “false and uneasy peace” but to beware of the accumulation of subtle changes to nullify the voices and consciences of Christians in society before rendering their places “unsustainable” by demanding their participation in activities contrary to Christian teaching.

Bishop Davies said: “In times when efforts are made to contain Christianity in the public square, the Easter message threatens to disturb a false and uneasy peace.  Like the effects of climate change around us, we may at first barely notice the subtle changes in the role of the Christian voice and conscience in society, until the place of Christians suddenly becomes unsustainable.

“We can be grateful this Easter to Baroness O’Loan whose Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill has now been introduced to Parliament.  It is a Bill that merits our active support, seeking as it does to ensure the rights of conscience of all medical professionals and ultimately to allow Christians to continue being doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists.  The Bill aims to clarify confusion in our laws that are increasingly being used to close down the space for conscience and threaten to force Christians to either act against their conscience or seek alternative employment.”

Baroness O’Loan’s Bill has progressed to Report Stage in the Lords and has yet to pass through the House of Commons.

The Bill seeks to ensure that conscience protections are in place to protect medical practitioners from discrimination in the workplace and to enable them to fully participate in their professions and to care for patients to the best of their ability.

It will guarantee the right of medical professionals to object to involvement in activities contrary to Christian morality, especially in the fields of end-of-life care, abortion and activities covered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Acts.

At present, the 1967 Abortion Act includes a conscience clause allowing professionals to opt out of participating directly in abortions. General Practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and others have limited statutory conscience protection, however, and a Parliamentary inquiry in 2016 discovered that some of them continue to face discrimination because of their beliefs in the sanctity and inviolability of human life.

The Free Conscience campaign, launched in support of the Bill, is inviting members of the public to visit its website (www.freeconscience.org.uk) for assistance in writing to their MP, asking them to support the Bill.

 

(Photo by Simon Caldwell)