13. Letter to the Editor: The FSRH guideline on conscientious objection disrespects patient rights and endangers their health

BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health (Volume 44, Issue 2)

By Christian Fiala and Joyce H. Arthur
Published online 12 April 2018

We write to offer feedback on the new Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) guideline on conscientious objection (CO) that was the subject of an editorial in the January 2018 issue of this journal. Our position, for which we have a clear evidence base, is set out below.

Essential parts of the new FSRH guideline, as well as the reasoning behind it, contradict the available evidence around the practice of CO, so we predict that the guideline will largely fail in practice.

We have written extensively on the problem of so-called CO in reproductive healthcare. The available evidence clearly shows that CO is a violation of medical ethics and patients’ rights, has no place in reproductive healthcare, and has misleadingly been co-opted from military CO. CO in healthcare is about imposing one’s religious or personal beliefs, including any negative consequences, on vulnerable others. This is the opposite of military CO. Refusing medical care based on personal beliefs is a negation of evidence-based medical practice and a repudiation of the overriding goal of medicine – to care for patients.

Continued: BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health