Sunday, 18 September 2011

British Medical Journal's 'Lobbywatch' puts the UK Islamic Medical Association under the microscope.

Last month the BMJ ran a rather damning expose of the Christian Medical Fellowship (an organisation which appears to have been hijacked by conservative Christians and used as a vehicle for pushing their increasingly extreme points of view on medical matters). This month it targets the UK's Islamic Medical Association who have equally wacky ideas on issues like vaccination. Their spokesman states:
...that he wants to promote a debate on the practice of vaccination in general. He has also urged British Muslims not to give their children vaccines such as that for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), because they contain substances that make them un-Islamic. He alleged that almost all vaccines contain “haraam” (forbidden) derivatives of animal or human tissue and that Muslim parents were better off letting children’s immune systems develop on their own.
Other medical practices are apparently not to be encouraged by Muslim doctors, such as giving condoms to unmarried persons, and the organisation sees its mandates as "joining actively the Pro-life campaign in Britain" and "Joining the campaign against the adding of Fluoride to our drinking water" (see

The article notes that the British Medical Association and GMC have learned of Muslim students who are refusing to learn about alcohol related illness or sexually transmitted disease as it offends their religious beliefs and that "A small number were also reported to be refusing to treat patients of the opposite sex."

I guess that would at least shorten ward rounds by about half. Makes the Christian Medical Fellowship look almost moderate in its views. (OK, not really).

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Where next for the anti-abortion brigade?

With the defeat of Nadine Dorries' abortion amendment in the House of Commons by 368 votes to 118, where can the UK anti-abortion lobby go now? The amendment had attempted to get 'independent' (read: 'faith-based') groups into pre-abortion counselling, with the aim of increasing the wait to abortion and applying pressure on those with unwanted pregnancies.

Well, the anti-choice lobby can take some comfort in the comments by the Under-Secretary for public health, Anne Milton, who was said that the Government was:
...supportive of the spirit of these amendments and we intend to bring forward proposals for regulations accordingly, but after consultation. Primary legislation is not only unnecessary but would deprive parliament of the opportunity to consider the detail of how this service would develop and evolve.
Ann Milton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, and a supporter of 'the spirit' of Nadine Dorries' amendments
Milton has fallen for Dorries' trap, that there is a problem here that somehow needs correcting; that counselling services for women considering abortion are somehow currently skewed or inadequate (a contention for which not one jot of evidence exists). Dorries' (or 'Mad Nad' as Private Eye magazine now dub her) amendment was described by Diane Abbot (the shadow public health minister) as "a shoddy, ill-conceived attempt to promote non-facts to make a non-case".

That, however, is precisely the kind of strategy the anti-abortion lobby must now pursue. With no case to make for a comprehensive review of abortion law, they must concentrate on building up straw men using anecdotes, irrelevant facts, and presuming causation where there exists only correlation. Oh, and getting funding from US anti-abortion campaigners, who are suspected of bankrolling the 'Right to Know' campaign spearheaded by Dorries and her parliamentary colleague Frank Field. The anti-abortion campaigners must concentrate on peripheral or nonsensical arguments, such as the supposed mental health consequences of abortion, or the tiny proportion of late term abortions, in order to chip away steadily at the notion that universal access to abortion in the UK represents a huge advance in healthcare and reproductive ethics. Or, a new favourite, is to play the victim card: that people are conspiring against you (or even blackmailing others) or that you are the victim of censorship. And whatever happens, rule number one is always to use smokescreen arguments and to NEVER mention that you really object to abortion because you believe there exists a text which is actually the transcribed thoughts of a deity who wasn't too keen on female reproductive choice. And you think that this deity's writings should be forced upon other people who don't hold that belief.

Find out how your MP voted on the amendment here.