Press Release: Right To Life Expresses Disappointment At Adoption of Conscience-Chilling New GPhC Standards

Right To Life (RTL) is expressing disappointment at today’s decision by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to adopt new professional standards that will undermine the freedom of conscience of pharmacists.

As RTL pointed out during the consultation period, this change will mean that pharmacists who ethically object to providing drugs that are abortifacient (cause a miscarriage) or are contragestive (prevent a conceived unborn child from implanting in her mother’s womb) will not be able to conscientiously object to being formally involved with that practice.

This choice by the GPhC ignores the public opposition to the proposed changes, which further narrow conscience protections for medical professionals just as the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2014 Doogan case did. Like that ruling, these new standards further emphasise the need for far better conscience protections to be established in law, so that fair and reasonable accommodation of those who practice medicine and reject the destruction of innocent human beings, can be established.

RTL Executive Officer Peter D. Williams said:

This is a small but significant backwards step for the conscience rights of medical professionals.

As Right To Life explained to the GPhC in our submission to their consultation, they had the choice to adopt similar standards to those of the General Medical Council (GMC), or indeed maintain the principles of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) statement on assisted suicide in 2013. Either would have allowed for no obligation to be made on any pharmacist to participate in any aspect of a procedure if he or she feels this is against their personal beliefs, whether by allowing them an ‘opt out’, whilst also requiring that they sensibly inform their employer and colleagues so as not to unduly disrupt the working environment or service of patients.

Instead, the GPhC have adopted a set of standards that betray those they are meant to serve and represent by showing no concern for the need to reasonably accommodate pharmacists with principled objections to contragestive or abortifacient drugs. This is an unnecessary and authoritarian move that I hope will be corrected, either by a reversal on the GPhC’s part, or more enlightened and liberal legislation securing the conscience rights of all those whose desire is to heal and not to harm”.


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