Anti-vasectomy doctors have gone to court to challenge new Medical Council guidelines [PDF] on how physicians with personal objections to vasectomy must deal with patients.
The doctors filed an application in the High Court last week for a judicial review of the guidelines, titled "Beliefs and Medical Practice". They are believed to be opposed to vasectomy on the basis that sexual intercourse is primarily for procreative purposes, and that any interference with this is a deliberate violation of God's design of human beings.
The Medical Council is withholding the guidelines until the case is decided.
Their main objection is understood to involve a new section in the guidelines covering the way doctors who object to contraception must deal with patients.
It requires them to tell male patients considering controlling their fertility, so that they do not have any further children, that vasectomy is one of the options.
The law already allows doctors to refuse to provide contraception or abortion services on grounds of conscience, although they must tell patients they can consult another physician.
The guidelines also cover other areas where spiritual, cultural or religious beliefs could conflict with patients' rights.
They say doctors should set aside their own beliefs where necessary and that they must make the care of the patient their first concern.
The Health and Disability Commissioner and the Resident Doctors Association approved the new section in their submissions on the draft, saying it was helpful to include specific advice.
Adapted from last week's Herald article, which I blogged a news bite about on Friday. The bit in italics is not in the draft guidelines at all, although a similar point about abortion is.