The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) has changed their professional guidelines concerning doctors, nurses and consultants “conscientiously objecting” to prescribing contraception based on moral or religious beliefs.

Previously, doctors or nurses who wanted to give advice on birth control and fertility, and to fit long-lasting reversible contraception, such as the coil and hormonal implant, must also be “able to prescribe all forms of contraception” in order to attain the diploma.

However, the Christian Medical Fellowship religious group condemned this guideline as it did not take into account doctors who personally object to abortion being a form of emergency contraception.

Although UK law allows for the legal right to conscientiously object to abortion care provisions, it previously did not include contraception.

FSRH president, Doctor Asha Kasliwal, and Chief Executive, Jane Hatfield, explains FSRH’s new guidelines in the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Sexual and Reproductive Health journal.

FSRH initially rejected the criticism from the Christian Medical Fellowship where FSRH claims that “it seemed entirely reasonable” to expect diploma holders to “carry out full and effective consultations and prescribe all forms of contraception.”

FSRH also believe that no patient “should ever be put at any disadvantage as a result of the views of any healthcare professional they see.”

After discussions with their members, FSRH learnt there was a “wide spectrum of views” among members that included emergency contraception provision, abortion, and “conscientious commitment” to delivering care regardless of belief. The General Medical Council added doctors “must explain to patients if you [doctors] have a conscientious objection to a particular procedure.

“You [doctors] must tell them about their right to see another doctor, and make sure they have enough information to exercise that right.”

The heart of the new guideline is that they welcome members with a range of views and will award the relevant Faculty qualifications to those who fulfil all training requirements and put patient care first, regardless of personal beliefs.