Documents to download

The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill seeks to clarify the extent to which a medical practitioner with a conscientious objection may refrain from participating in certain medical activities, namely withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and activities under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the Abortion Act 1967. Statutory exemptions for conscientious objection already exist for two of the medical activities the Bill aims to cover. The Abortion Act 1967 provides a statutory exemption for individuals who have a conscientious objection participate in abortion. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 already provides an exemption for practitioners wishing to rely on their conscientious objection. Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists are bound to practice in accordance with standards set by their respective statutory regulatory bodies, namely the General Medical Council for doctors, the Nursing and Midwifery Council for nurses, and the General Pharmaceutical Council for pharmacy professionals. Each body has provided guidance for practitioners for when faced with a situation where they may not wish to participate due to their conscientious objection.

This Briefing provides background information on the Bill and explores the existing law and guidance on conscientious objection in relation to medical activities.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Anaesthesia associates and physician associates

    The government is planning to legislate to bring physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) under the regulation of the General Medical Council (GMC). Although there is support for regulating these roles, there are concerns that patients do not always understand that PAs and AAs are not doctors. A House of Lords committee has also highlighted that the legislation would allow the GMC to set and change rules without parliamentary oversight.

    Anaesthesia associates and physician associates
  • Contribution of the arts to society and the economy

    The government estimates that creative industries generated £126bn in gross value added to the economy and employed 2.4 million people in 2022. A range of research is also examining the way in which creative industries and the arts can positively impact wellbeing, for example through public health interventions. In June 2023, the government published a ‘Creative industries sector vision’ which included a commitment to an additional £77mn in funding.

    Contribution of the arts to society and the economy