British Medical Association to move to neutral stance on assisted dying


The BMA will move to a neutral stance on physician-assisted dying.

The change in position follows a narrow vote at the BMA Annual Representative Meeting (ARM), which h saw 49% of 302 delegates in favour, 48% against and 3% abstaining.

The motion said: ‘This meeting believes, in order to represent the diversity of opinion demonstrated in the survey of its membership, the BMA should move to a position of neutrality on assisted dying including physician-assisted dying.’

It follows a major BMA survey last year that found more doctors are in favour of seeing the BMA change its stance to support assisted dying than those who are against it. . .Another motion adding that provision should be made for ‘conscientious objection’ in any future UK legislation on assisted dying. . . was also passed. . . A section proposing that clinicians with a conscientious objection should refer the patient to another clinician was passed as a reference – meaning it will be looked at but not made official BMA policy . . . continue reading

GPs free to object to taking part in firearm licensing

Practice Business

Tim Martin

GPs will be allowed to conscientiously object to taking part in the firearm licensing process, the British Medical Association has said.

The BMA is currently working with the Home Office to improve licensing rules around firearms, following the introduction of an information sharing process that was introduced last April, designed to ensure licence holders are medically fit to carry arms, On Medica reports. . .[Full text]


Doctors’ leaders clash with pro-shooting group over health checks on gun licence applicants

The Herald

W.N.M.P. Bowern

Apply for a firearms or shotgun licence and your family doctor will be asked by the police if he or she thinks there might any medical reason or ‘concerns’ to refuse to allow you to possess a gun.

A change in the licensing regime last April meant new information sharing processes between GPs and the police were introduced in an attempt to ensure those licensed to possess firearm and shotgun certificates were medically fit to carry sporting guns.

The British Medical Association expressed concerns at the time. This week it has gone further, advising doctors they can refuse to engage in the process if they have a conscientious objection to firearms and telling them if they do agree to provide information they should charge a fee. . . .[Full text]


Doctors told not to call pregnant women “mothers”


Xavier Symons

British doctors have been told not to call pregnant women ‘mothers’ in a British Medical Association (BMA) document that has been slammed by conservative commentators.

In a booklet entitled A Guide To Effective Communication: Inclusive Language In The Workplace, doctors are instructed to use “inclusive language” that demonstrates “a commitment to equality and inclusion”. This includes revising conventional language used during pregnancy:

“Gender inequality is reflected in traditional ideas about the roles of women and men…We can include intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant by saying ‘pregnant people’ instead of ‘expectant mothers’.”

In an introduction to the guide on the BMA’s website, senior executive Dr Anthea Mowat wrote: ‘I would encourage you all to read and share this guide, and think about how you can apply it in your day-to-day work. This is a time where we need to come together to support and protect our colleagues and our patients.’

Conservative MP Philip Davies described the guidance as ‘completely ridiculous’: “If you can’t call a pregnant woman an expectant mother, then what is the world coming to?'”

Women’s rights campaigner Laura Perrins was equally critical of the document:

‘As every doctor knows only females can have children. To say otherwise is offensive and dangerous. This will offend women up and down the country, and is an example of the majority of women being insulted for a tiny minority of people.’

The BMA controversy comes just weeks after British media outlets reported the ‘first male pregnancy’, involving a transgender who halted her gender transition to being a male so that she could have a child.

Doctors told not to call pregnant women "mothers"This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation to BioEdge. Commercial media must contact BioEdge for permission and fees.


Nurses Cannot be Good Catholics

BMJ Blogs

John Olusegun Adenitire

It seems that if you are a nurse you cannot be a good Catholic.  Or, better: if you want to work as a nurse then you might have to give up some of your religious beliefs.  A relatively recent decision of the UK Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, seems to suggest so.  In a legal decision that made it into the general press (see here), the Supreme Court decided that two Catholic midwives could not refuse to undertake administrative and supervisory tasks connected to the provision of abortions.

To be sure, no one asked the nurses to directly assist in the provision of abortions.  The Abortion Act 1967 says that “No person shall be under any duty … to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection.”  The Nurses argued that this provision of the Act should be understood widely.  Not only should they be allowed to refuse to directly assist in abortion services: they should also be entitled to refuse to undertake managerial and supervisory tasks if those were linked to abortion services.  The nurses’ employer was not impressed; neither was the Supreme Court which ruled that the possibility to conscientiously object only related to a ‘hands-on’ capacity in the provision of abortion services. . . [Full text]