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Rights of Conscience for Medical Practitioners Upheld

7th December, 2010

High Court Upholds the Rights of Conscience for Medical Practitioners

Voice for Life Inc is very pleased about the judgment of Justice Alan McKenzie in the High Court in Wellington on the proposed Medical Council Guidelines.

The judgment released on 3rd December, found that the Medical Council’s Guidelines for doctors dealing with a women seeking an abortion, overstepped the law and needed to be amended.

The Guidelines also imposed obligations beyond those imposed by law.


In March 2009, The NZ Medical Council published a discussion paper on the proposed medical guidelines entitled “Beliefs and Medical Practice.”

Doctors who had objections to abortions may be required to offer the procedure to their patient, if she expressed doubts about the pregnancy.

Eight doctors in Wellington filed an application for a judicial review, because of their concerns about how binding the Guidelines might be, and the prospect that they could face future disciplinary action from the Council.

The draft guidelines acknowledged that some doctors may have conscientious objections to abortion on religious grounds.


But they omitted to consider that there may be GPs well-versed in recent research carried out in New Zealand and overseas on abortion and mental health, who could object to offering abortion on the grounds that it may adversely harm their patient’s mental health.

This would be a case of a GP exercising his or her professional expertise and judgment in “duty of care” to the patient.

Voice for Life notes that the NZ Medical Council has never commented on this research, nor shown any interest in the disturbing evidence it revealed about abortion and the effect on mental health.


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