The story so far: Peter Saunders is a former medical doctor and current born-again evangelical Christian who meddles in UK politics. He regularly makes jaw-droppingly bigoted statements, usually supported with dodgy evidence, on his apology for a blog, and has been recently making himself obnoxious on Twitter over a consultation paper on ethics issued by the General Medical Council.
You see, he claims that he knows better than his former specialist colleagues and that the iniquitous plans of the GMC will lead to good men losing their jobs for making a courageous stand, or as he puts it: Doctors who won’t prescribe contraception to unmarried women or provide sex-change operations risk being struck off, says GMC.
I’m not going into the medical reasons other than contraception for a woman taking the pill. They exist, and Dr Jen Gunter can explain them to you. I’m not going to discuss the ethics of Gender Affirmation Surgery which is the rather less demeaning term used for the kind of surgery he apparently finds as abhorrent as abortion. We’ll maybe touch on that some other time.
No, what I’m giving up my beauty sleep to excoriate is a wonderful piece of bigoted fuckwittery that the good ex-doctor linked to as representing his ‘medical values’. By the way, I must apologise for the previous sentence. I promised myself and the entire Teapot Collective – even the sugar bowl – that I would avoid profanity here. However, “fuckwittery” is the only appropriate word to describe the ignorant, bigoted, mendacious rantings of a self-appointed pundit.
— Peter Saunders (@drpetersaunders) April 23, 2012
Very well, let us examine Peter Saunders’s medical values:
CMF’s Christian values can be summed up in Christ’s two great commandments (Luke 10:27). ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Deuteronomy 6:5); and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18)
Er, what? I thought you said medical values. Let me check that I clicked on the right link. Be right back… Nope, it was the right link. Saunders’s medical values put his God before all else, including his patients.
Specifically we aim, as Christian doctors:
- To acknowledge, love and obey God as the Creator, Sustainer and Lord of all life.
Again, where are the fucking patients you’re supposed to put first?
- To practise whole-person medicine which addresses our patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs
I don’t know about you, but this insistence on spirituality is beginning to make me nervous. Normally this sort of red flag would get me looking for the faith healing section of a website.
- To maintain the deepest respect for human life from its beginning to its end, including the unborn, the handicapped and the elderly
That’s the anti-abortion stance. What of rape? What if the mother’s life is at risk, including risk of suicide if forced to bear an unwanted child? What if the fetus is not viable: should it still be carried to term? Inclusion of the handicapped and elderly suggests that any form of assisted dying would be withheld, no matter how great the patient’s suffering in the terminal stages of an illness.
- To serve our patients according to their healthcare need without partiality or discrimination on any basis.
This does not gel with his stance on contraception for unmarried women or with his point-blank refusal to even refer transgender patients wishing GAS to another, more competent doctor.
- To care sacrificially for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized
Somehow I don’t think this is a vow of poverty (“Is ‘sacrificially’ a word?” – the SO). Are doctors allowed by their professional code to refuse to treat someone in the UK if they’re present at the scene of the accident but not getting directly paid for it? Unlikely, I think. File under “sanctimonious bullshit”.
- To uphold marriage between a man and a woman, faithfulness and the family
WTF has this to do with medicine? Would he refuse to treat an erring spouse who doesn’t want their partner to know they caught the clap? Would he try to shame a battered wife into staying with a man who may well end up killing her?
- To speak the truth, respect privacy and safeguard our patients’ confidences.
And this is the truth is it? I ask merely for information:
— Peter Saunders (@drpetersaunders) April 23, 2012
The link is to a rant on his blog. No, he’s can’t back the figures up and goes from that bald, unqualified statement to “in my opinion” in the space of a few words. This is called “being disingenuous“.
- To put our patients first whilst fully accepting our duty to promote preventive medicine and public health.
Again, putting your religious beliefs before science-based medicine is not in any way the same as “putting your patients first.”
- To deal honestly with our professional and administrative colleagues and to respect the governing authorities
Peter Saunders needs to revise the meaning of the word “honestly”. See Tweet above for an example. Actually, see most of his writings for as many examples as you can eat.
- To work constructively in scientific research and in training others for the benefit of individual patients and the advance of health care throughout the world.
If refusing to contemplate certain medical procedures under any circumstances because you believe it to be against the precepts of an ancient book written in a totally different historical and cultural context - deep breath – is constructive, then I’m Santa Claus in bleedin’ fishnet tights.
- Christian Medical Comment: Ten reasons not to legalise same sex marriage (plagueofmice.anarchic-teapot.net)