The World Medical Association’s Plan to Gut Medical Conscience

A doctor wearing a protective mask and a protective suit works in a pulmonology unit at the hospital in Vannes, France, where patients suffering from the coronavirus are treated, October 12, 2020. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

With the effective destruction of the Hippocratic Oath, doctors who wish to follow the Oath’s maxims of not participating in abortion or assisted suicide are in danger of being kicked out of the lifeboat by the World Medical Association.

Specifically, the WMA has a draft proposal to amend the organization’s ethical rules to require that physicians with a conscientious objection to an intervention refer patients to other physicians without the moral reticence. Specifically, the draft ethical revision reads (with the proposed change in bold):

Physicians have an ethical obligation to minimise disruption to patient care. Conscientious objection must only be considered if the individual patient is not discriminated against or disadvantaged, the patient’s health is not endangered, and undelayed continuity of care is ensured through effective and timely referral to another qualified physician.

If adopted, it would mean that physicians would have the ethical duty to be complicit in actions to which they are opposed for religious or moral reasons, including abortion, euthanasia (where legal) — i.e., homicide, assisted suicide (where legal), blocking puberty of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria, transition surgeries , infant circumcision, etc. This would not only violate the human rights of physicians by forcing them to do things they believe immoral or harmful to the patient, but require them in abortion/euthanasia/assisted-suicide cases to be complicit in the taking of innocent human life.

(Please note: Medical conscience does not include a doctor refusing to forward a patient’s medical records to another physician upon the patient’s request. Medical records belong to the patient.)

The proposed change would not only be authoritarian, but conflict with two other WMA ethical rules (my emphasis):

The physician must practise with conscience, honesty, and integrity, while always exercising independent professional judgment and maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct.


A physician must always provide medical treatment with the utmost respect for human dignity and life.

It would also drive physicians with traditional Hippocratic values out of medicine and inhibit talented young people — who would make splendid doctors — from attending medical school out of fear they would be forced to violate their consciences as the price of licensure. But then, that may be much of the point.

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