Doctors who Respect Human Life

British Section of the World Federation


Who We Are

President - Mr R Balfour, FRCOG DTM & H
Chairman - Dr Mary Knowles, FFARCSI
Hon. Secretary - Dr Denis Daley, FRCP

What is the Federation?

It is an affiliation of doctors throughout the world who support the traditional medical ethic of sevice to life. There are members in 54 countries. The President is Dr. Karel Gunning, MD. from Rotterdam and the General Secretary is Dr. Philip Schepens from Ostend.

Why was the Hippocratic Oath Reformulated?

The Nuremberg trials demonstrated that some doctors had decided that certain human beings were of less value that others (because of race, religion, handicap, age, infirmity etc.), hence it was not unethical to experiment on and the kill them. To ensure that doctors would never again be diverted from their proper function, the code of ethics was reformulated as the Declaration of Geneva 1948, and was recommended by the British Medical Association in "War Crimes and Medicine.". Regrettably, adherence to the Declaration forms no part of the graduation ceremony for British doctors.

Why was the Federation Founded?

Dutch doctors with their experience of the necessity to dissent from the Nazi "Physicians' Bureau" and its social hygiene measures, saw that traditional service to life was endangered. Social policies of population control being planned by the U.N. World Population Conference in Bucharest in August 1974 would include abortion, euthanasia and eugenics. The Federation was founded at an international Congress in Holland in June 1974, and a submission was made to the Conference on behalf of 70,000 doctors.

Is the Federation Necessary?

Yes. The Hippocratic tradition is a safeguard for patients. But as a Hugh Court judge, Sir Roger Omrod B.M., BCh., stated in 1967, in a National Health Service "the concept of ethical obligations to the State" is introduced. In their memorandum to the Lane Committee, the Royal College of Psychiatrists advocated an abortion policy as a means to solve the national problem of large families. The 1975 directive from the Department of Health, "On the Appointment of Consultants: Termination of Pregnancy" had the effect of excluding from hospital posts those unwilling to recommend or perform abortion on social grounds.

An opinion poll in 1987 showed that if euthanasia were legalised, one-third of the British public would expect all geriatricians to be required to carry it out, as part of their contract.

The purposes of the profession is to serve man's basic need to health. This need is universal. It transcends societies, cultures, boundaries. The Hippocratic code was founded to ensure that "medicine" would remain true to its purpose of healing and promoting health, NOT death.

The Aims of the Federation

  • To uphold the Hippocratic tradition.

  • To support doctors and health personnel who are discriminated against because they uphold that tradition.

  • To call for legal protection for all members of the human race, from conception/fertilisation until natural death, in accordance with the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the Declaration of the Righs of the Child 1959.

The Medical Code of Ethics Declaration of Geneva, 1948

At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession: I solemnly pledge myself to consecreate my life to the service of humanity. I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due. I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity. The health of my patients will be my first consideration. I will respect the secrets which are confided in me. I will maintain by all the means in my power the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession. My colleagues will be my brothers. I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient. I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the law of humanity. I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour ...

The Second General Assembly of the World Medical Association 1948

Extracts from the Dutch Physicians' Protest

... We discontinued our membership in the Dutch Medical Society ... to express our conviction that the function of the physician is born of his own high moral and spiritual norms and ... should be free from political control ... The Physician is the undisputed protector of two holy and precious values; the respect of life, and charity towards the sick human being. From time immemorial the vocation of the physician hs been a vocation of confidence ... a priestly vocation. The physician ... realises the smallness of his knowledge in the face of the magnitude of the mystery of life, suffering and death ... We do not deny that social hygienic measure constitute part of the task of the physician; we can recognise the duty only insofar as it proceeds from and is not in conflict with the first and holiest precept of the physician ... the respect for life and for the physical well-being of the individual ...

The Netherlands in Time of War. Vol. II. Translated by Conrad W. Baars, M.D.