Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Essay

Reflection is protection in abortion care—an essay by Sandy Goldbeck-Wood

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 20 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5275

Rapid Response:

Re: Reflection is protection in abortion care—an essay by Sandy Goldbeck-Wood

Dear Editor,
I was interested to read Sandy Goldbeck-Wood's thoughtful article on the importance of reflection in abortion care. (1).
She eloquently outlines the value of conscientious reflection for both woman and doctor. I share this belief, though arrive there from a position of conscientious objection to abortion, rather than that of the conscientious performer. Her piece in support of conscience is in marked contrast to others who believe that "... conscience has little place in the delivery of modern medical care" (2), a startling view that is effectively countered here . I have argued elsewhere (3) that far from being detrimental to choice the role of doctors who hold a conscientious objection is of value, and an important counter-balance to avoid the brutalisation that Goldbeck-Wood warns against. This will remain the case even if abortion is taken out of the criminal law. I hope organisations like the BMA and GMC will recognise this and continue to support those doctors who conscientiously object.

1. Goldbeck-Wood, Sandy: Reflection is protection in abortion care;
BMJ 2017;359:j5275
2.. Savulescu, Julian: Conscientious objection in medicine; BMJ 2006;332:294-297
3. Gerrard, J W: Is it ethical for a general practitioner to claim a conscientious objection when asked to refer for abortion? J Med Ethics 2009;35:599-602

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 November 2017
James W. Gerrard
Windmill Health Centre, Mill Green View, Leeds LS14 5JS