Friday, April 16, 2010

Medical Council attack on Catholic Conscientious objection

We report today on the case of Dr. Phil Boyle, who runs a fertility treatment practice in the Galway clinic. Dr Boyle is the foremost practitioner in Ireland in the use of NaproTechnology, a Catholic approach to treatment of infertility. Last year Dr Boyle declined to treat an unmarried couple on the basis that he limits such elective treatment to married couples only, in accordance with Catholic principles.

Following a complaint by the couple to the Medical Council Dr Boyle was summoned to appear before the Fitness to Practice Committee last week on a professional misconduct charge.

Dr Boyle was acquitted on a technicality but his right to conscientious objection was not recognised. He had been charged with refusing to treat a patient and of not referring the patient to another doctor. The Fitness to practice Committee ultimately accepted that the couple had not become his patient and that in the circumstances referral to another doctor did not arise.

The fact that this case was not dismissed on the basis of the conscientious objection of Dr Boyle is a cause for concern

It also appears that this may not be the end of the matter, it is understood that the couple may now take their case to the Equality Authority on the grounds that Dr Boyle is in breach of the Equal Status Act which outlaws ‘discrimination’ in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of marital status.

We will watch carefully how the issue progresses as it could have major implications for the conscientious objection of medical practitioners in all areas of practice

see also report on the issue by the Iona Institute