Apr 242012
 

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.

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:

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.

Jay H

LGBT activist. I despise bigots, especially those who use their religion as an excuse for their hate-filled speech.
Jay H has written 32 posts on this blog.
  • kevin

    Who is opinionated here, the preacher doctor or the bugger harassing him over, what I guess was some sort of life altering experience with God. Are doctors prohibited from freedom of opinion and speech in the U.K. ? We have all sorts of ding bat doctors in the U.S.: however, their statements and actions are not necessarily the same.

    My values are not necessarily those of my employers. Yes, I share core values and this is why I enjoy my work. Still, I am an individual and I do not expect a corporation to share all of my values.

    Let the doctor be himself and let the medical field be itself. If I ran my home like my work, I would not have a home to go too, If I ran my work like I do my home, I would not have work to go too. The good doctor needs to realize his personal values conflict with the values of the medical field and leave it at that.

    You need to sympathize with him as an intellectual and realize salvation is a life altering experience that happens without warning and does not include a handbook on how to adjust back into your old life. However, if you need to prove this to yourself monitor the good doctor for 5 years and you will see that this air of judgement and right and wrong will pass.

    What it gives way to is probably better described as a spirit of tolerance and understanding for the human condition; this is what I suppose you are expecting from him at this time.

    Kevin Fogarty
    USA

    • http://plagueofmice.anarchic-teapot.net/ Jay H

      Let’s go through this point by point, shall we?
       

      Who is opinionated here, the preacher doctor or the bugger harassing him over

      Harassing? Public comment on a public text is harassment? You use a very strange dictionary. Also, Saunders is neither a preacher nor a practising medic: he is basically a political lobbyist for extreme evangelical Christianity, as far as I can tell.

      what I guess was some sort of life altering experience with God.

      I’m sorry, but this is a non sequitur. To what and to whom are you referring? I have certainly never met God and I’m prepared to bet anything you like that Peter Saunders hasn’t either.

      Are doctors prohibited from freedom of opinion and speech in the U.K. ?

      No. Nor is it prohibited to criticise his views, which he publicises relentlessly. Are you arguing that those who disagree with his remarks should be denied freedom of speech?

      We have all sorts of ding bat doctors in the U.S.: however, their statements and actions are not necessarily the same.

      Please provide evidence of your doctors’ hypocrisy. I mean real doctors, not naturopaths or chiropractors. They are not doctors as far as the rest of the world (or sanity) is concerned.

      My values are not necessarily those of my employers. Yes, I share core values and this is why I enjoy my work. Still, I am an individual and I do not expect a corporation to share all of my values.

      What has this got to do with the price of fish? The CMF ‘core values’ are also promoted by Saunders on a personal level. He runs the CMF, so in fact the tenuous “my views do not necessarily represent my employer’s” schtick is to protect the CMF, not him.

      Let the doctor be himself and let the medical field be itself.

      So you *do* only support freedom of speech for those who agree with you. It does not matter to you that Saunders’s agenda, based mostly on unscientific premises – if not outright lies – would harm many, force his extreme beliefs on people who do not share them and, best of all, restrict access to full healthcare for many people. And, like the bishops in the House of Lords, he is neither an elected representative nor active in the field in which he seeks to intervene.

      If I ran my home like my work, I would not have a home to go too, If I ran my work like I do my home, I would not have work to go too. The good doctor needs to realize his personal values conflict with the values of the medical field and leave it at that.

      He should, but he does not. Why do you object to that being pointed out to him? Remember, this man is not a practising doctor but a political activist.

      You need to sympathize with him as an intellectual

      I cannot sympathise with somebody whose rampant intellectual dishonesty and adherence to dogma over science, or even simple humanity, can cause suffering to the vulnerable.

      and realize salvation is a life altering experience that happens without warning

      The same applies to a stroke. I consider both to be handicaps.

      and does not include a handbook on how to adjust back into your old life.

      Only because extreme bigotry is not (yet?) considered a mental illness.

      However, if you need to prove this to yourself monitor the good doctor for 5 years…

      When I use the phrase “the good doctor” about Saunders, I am being sarcastic. I do not think that a ‘gay cure’ apologist who would refuse contraception to single women, treatment to a transgender person – including refusal to refer to a competent specialist – who campaigns against marriage equality while spouting well-debunked myths about gay people… The list goes on. I have observed this man for some time via Twitter and his blog. I am not the United Nations. I do not need to “monitor… for 5 years” for political expediency. I research, and I call it as I sees it. Now.

      and you will see that this air of judgement and right and wrong will pass.

      Meaningless and patronising cant. Do you sign off with “Ite, missa est”?

      What it gives way to is probably better described as a spirit of tolerance and understanding for the human condition; this is what I suppose you are expecting from him at this time.

      Actually, I’d settle for not lying and not agitating for all doctors to be forced to put *his* values before the interests of *their* patients.

  • Acleron

    Interesting that he lists ‘put the patient first’ as eight of ten core values. More than a little contradictory. But a minor problem for someone who believes.