MaterCare International, an organisation of obstetricians and gynaecologists who provide ethical maternal health care in the developing world, has issued a statement criticising attacks on the right to conscientious objection by the Obama Administration.
Conscientious objection has long been a tenet of civilised societies and it is now proposed that this right be denied by the rescinding protection of doctors. By interfering in the freedom to practise according to conscience, the principles of autonomy of the physician and the rights of mothers will be removed. This proposed legislation is an attack on an inalienable right. To force doctors to perform procedures they believe to be unethical, immoral and clearly harmful to mother and unborn child and to threaten their right to practise if they should refuse, is a form of totalitarianism and to amounts to discrimination and persecution. The practice of obstetrics in the United States will suffer as there will be a sameness of practice which will stifle further thought and progress in maternal health care. The Declaration of Geneva, formulated after World War II, was never more pertinent “I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity. I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception, even under threat.”