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0 - Protection of Conscience Project Library
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(Correspondence) Life devoid of value?

Heiko Baunemann

Canadian Medical Association Journal, CMAJ
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Extract
In “The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value” Hoche, a distinguished psychiatrist, and Binding, a highly respected jurist, persuasively developed the concept of “worthless human beings”, such as the hopelessly crippled, deformed and insane. They stressed the misery and futility of such unfortunate lives and the cruel economic burden they represented to their relatives and society. . . the legalization of abortion by the Canadian Parliament in 1969 have laid the foundation for the legalization of euthanasia, or the killing of people medically judged to be “incapable of meaningful life”, such as mongoloid idiots, imbeciles, the terminally ill, persons with senile melancholia, stroke victims living like “vegetables”, and – well, the sort of people, besides unwanted babies, who would be “better off dead”. Be patient: euthanasia is coming.


Baunemann H. (Correspondence) Life devoid of value?. Can Med Assoc J. 1976;115(11):1086.

(Correspondence) The Canadian abortion law

PG Coffey

Canadian Medical Association Journal, CMAJ
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Extract
The main thrust of the letter by Drs. Cohen, Rapson and Watters (Can Med Assoc J 114: 593, 1976) is that abortion is good medicine and should not be denied to certain groups of citizens. I think, on the other hand, that liberalized abortion is bad medicine and should be curtailed rather than encouraged. . . . It is becoming increasingly clear that abortion is a hazardous operation with far-reaching effects. . . . After some years abortion tends to be used as a birth control measure. Many women have more than one abortion. Legalizing abortion may not reduce greatly the illegal practice of it and some reports have shown that it has increased this practice.


Coffey PG. (Correspondence) The Canadian abortion law. Can Med Assoc J. 1976 Aug 07;115(3):213, 216.

(Correspondence) The Canadian abortion law (authors’ reply)

Wendell W Watters, May Cohen,Linda Rapson

Canadian Medical Association Journal, CMAJ
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Extract
On the issue of complications following legal abortion, Dr. Coffey quotes Jeffcoate, whose antiabortion views are widely known, and the Wynn report, a document compiled by two crusaders for “compulsory pregnancy’s who used data inappropriately in an attempt to substantiate their personal beliefs. . . Results of studies in Aberdeen, England and Sweden suggested that women denied a safe legal abortion – that is, the victims of compulsory pregnancy – were more likely to experience emotional distress than women who were allowed to exercise reproductive responsibility by the use of the option of legal abortion. In other words, compulsory pregnancy is bad medicine. Dr. Coffey makes another statement that is contradicted by modern evidence. The notion that abortion tends to be used as a method of primary birth control does not square with the evidence from the Population Council . . . .We can trace the enactment of antiabortion laws throughout history to policies of demographic aggression. . . .the Quebec government, in a state of demographic panic over its low birth rate, harassing our colleague Dr. Henry Morgentaler; and Canada competing demographically with the United States: all such irresponsible behaviour is potentially more lethal than nuclear holocaust. For almost a decade the United Nations has granted people the world over the right to plan their families without any interference from the state. This is a paper right until it extends, de facto as well as de jure, beyond conception to the point of potential viability.


Watters WW, Cohen M, Rapson L. (Correspondence) The Canadian abortion law (authors’ reply). Can Med Assoc J. 1976 Aug 07;115(3).

(Correspondence) A question of conscience

R Salm

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
I was not concerned with the rights and wrongs of abortions; the point I made was that if an individual, or a minority group, contracted out of this service the burden on the remaining consultants (gynaecologists and anesthetists) would be correspondingly increased and that it is understandable that employing authorities will tend to avoid creating a situation which is fraught with friction and dissatisfaction. I would agree that it is a further illustration of the potential dangers of an inflexible monopoly employer.


Salm R. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6029):235.


(Correspondence) A question of conscience

Herbert H Pilling

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
Some of your correspondents on this subject seem to be ignoring the fact that the NHS Acts and Regulations impose upon all doctors employed in the Health Service a duty to make available to their patients any treatment which their condition may warrant, and in certain cases one such treatment is the termination of pregnancy. These cases are defined in the Abortion Act 1967 and the clear implication of section 1 (1) of that Act, taken in conjunction with the general duty outlined above, is that a doctor must consider whether any patient requesting a termination of pregnancy falls within the criteria set out in the Act, and if so he must make the appropriate treatment available to her. He need not, however, participate in the treatment.


Pilling HH. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6029):234-235.

(Correspondence) A question of conscience

John M Hudson

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
Dr R Salm’s letter (26 June, p 1593) saddened me because in it he fails to make clear that he understands the grave injury that Mr Walley and many others have suffered. I am sure that he does not think that having to give up for life one’s ambition to practise the specialty of one’s choice in one’s own country is a mere inconvenience. Both to change one’s specialty and to go into exile are poor alternatives. Has he considered that it would be possible to arrange a system for abortions in which all the parties concerned obtained reasonable satisfaction and nobody was hurt in this way ? I am far from convinced that this is impossible.


Hudson JM. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6029):234. Available from: .

(Correspondence) A question of conscience

Margaret White

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
Parliament went out of its way to avoid the situation Mr Walley describes by inserting a conscience clause. At no stage of the debate was there any suggestion that this clause was only to apply to the present holders of jobs, and had there been any such suggestion it is extremely unlikely that the bill would ever have been passed.


White M. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6027):108-109.

(Correspondence) A question of conscience

W Lindesay Neustatter

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
While I respect Mr Walley’s sincerity, like Dr Salm I question his logic. I have in mind in particular his reference to the conscientious objector’s exemption from service in the armed Forces in war. For there the comparison with Mr Walley’s experience breaks down. To be analogous it would mean that the conscientious objector could have the privilege of holding a commission-somewhat similar to a consultancy- but reserving the right not to shoot at the enemy when in action.


Neustatter WL. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6027):108.

(Correspondence) A question of conscience

David Hooker

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
The “will of the people, as expressed through Parliament,” does not make abortion right any more than bashing old ladies on the head would be if made “legal” in this way. Moreover, for those of us who oppose abortion it is more than a matter of conscience. It is a very positive conviction that abortion is wrong.


Hooker D. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6027):108.

(Correspondence) A question of conscience

Lillian Versteeg

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
Mr R Walley’s “Personal Paper” (12 June, p 1456) shocked me profoundly. Those of us who recall the policy of appointing to mental institutions in Nazi Germany only those doctors prepared to take part in “euthanasia” of mentally defectives must recoil from the implications of the policy he encountered.


Versteeg L. (Correspondence) A question of conscience. Br Med J. 1976;2(6026):43.