Editor’s note. This appears on the blog of the Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organization.
On 25 June in a blog titled ‘BMA still not listening to public or science on late abortion’ I reported on the vote at the British Medical Association annual representative meeting against a motion which sought to provide legal protection for babies at the threshold of viability.
Delegates objected to a lowering of the upper abortion limit for babies without disability to 20 weeks by a two to one majority.
The BMA produced a seven page briefing paper opposing the motion and delegates were encouraged by both BMA Council Chairman Hamish Meldrum and Ethics Chairman Tony Calland to vote against it.
The BMA is deeply committed to abortion and has been in recent years an ardent exponent of abortion rights. This is not surprising given that doctors have carried out over 7 million abortions in Great Britain since 1967.
But it has not always been so.
A recent article in the British Medical Journal refers to Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) as a ‘lobby group’ and specifically criticises by implication its views on abortion.
But in fact CMF’s views on abortion are in accord with all historic codes on medical ethics such as the Hippocratic Oath, the Declaration of Geneva and the international Code of Medical Ethics. They are also in accord with the historic position of the BMA!
The British Medical Association itself was once strongly opposed to abortion as revealed in BMJ archives recently published on the journal’s website.
In June 1947 the BMA published a statement on ‘War Crimes and Medicine’ which it later submitted to the General Assembly of the World Medical Association in September1947.
The statement included the following:
‘The evidence given in the trials of medical war criminals has shocked the medical profession of the world. These trials have shown that the doctors who were guilty of these crimes against humanity lacked both the moral and professional conscience that is to be expected of members of this honourable profession. They departed from the traditional medical ethic which maintains the value and sanctity of every individual human being.’
The statement majors, as one might expect, on the atrocities carried out by German doctors during the Nazi holocaust, but returns again and again to general principles about respect for life:
‘The doctors who took part in these deeds did not become criminals in a moment. Their amoral methods were the result of training and conditioning to regard science as an instrument in the hands of the State to be applied in any way desired by its rulers. It is to be assumed that initially they did not realize that the ideas of those who held political power would lead to the denial of the fundamental values on which Medicine is based. Whatever the causes such crimes must never be allowed to recur. Research in medicine as well as its practice must never be separated from eternal moral values. Doctors must be quick to point out to their fellow members of society the likely consequences of policies that degrade or deny fundamental human rights.’
So what does this have to do with abortion you might ask? The answer lies in the document’s conclusion:
‘Although there have been many changes in Medicine, the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath cannot change and can be reaffirmed by the profession. It enjoins…The duty of curing, the greatest crime being co-operation in the destruction of life by murder, suicide and abortion.’
The BMA was once strongly opposed to abortion. But it has chosen to discard its own ethics. A vigorously pro-abortion position has now been wholeheartedly embraced and is ardently defended by its present leadership.
By contrast the CMF still opposes abortion. This does not make the CMF a lobby group. It rather raises questions about the behaviour of the BMA.