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ss CMF news - summer 2006,  Ethics


The last year has seen major challenges, but also some significant encouragements in the field of medical ethics. In particular the successful opposition to the Joffe Bill and the creation of the Care Not Killing Alliance, in which CMF has played such a central role, may have laid a foundation for new collaborations and initiatives and brought fresh energy and resources into the field. The challenge for the next period will be to focus and harness this new energy and spirit of cooperation into productive areas, particularly in the support and development of palliative care.

The Medical Study Group (MSG) is working closely with the Public Policy Committee (PPC) with the aim being to strengthen mechanisms for drafting authoritative and considered responses to the flood of official consultations and public policy debates. In addition the MSG is aiming to put a greater focus on commissioning and writing original articles on ethics and professional practice, both at a popular student and high school level, but also at a more 'academic' level, suitable for publication in professional journals. As the Mental Capacity Act comes into force in 2007 there will be a renewed emphasis on advance statements and we are planning to develop resources to meet this new challenge.

CMF Files

Recently published files have included Neonatal Ethics, Saviour Siblings, Autonomy, Quality of Life, Transhumanism and Suffering. Future topics are being actively debated and we welcome suggestions for topics from the membership. A particular need is for telling personal stories and anecdotes which ground Christian and ethical theory in practical experience in clinical practice. We are grateful as always to Peter Saunders and Pete Moore for their editorial oversight of CMF Files. The Files continue to have wide distribution and influence amongst medical students and sixth-formers in the UK and increasingly internationally.


We have recently made submissions on two important consultations that will have an impact on the law on end of life issues. The Law Commission Review on the Homicide Law is a wide-ranging consultation, but we have a particular interest in how it will affect the law on mercy killing. The consultation on the Codes of Practice for the Mental Capacity Act will have a bearing on how that Act will be interpreted by doctors and the courts. Both submissions are on the CMF website at

CMF has also contributed to the Care Not Killing Alliance submissions on both these consultations. These are also available on line:

MCA Codes of Practice -

Law Commission Review -

We have also issued press releases on human trafficking and the sex trade and the UN's failure to deliver on HIV/AIDS – see

John Wyatt is Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics at UCL and Senior Researcher at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, University of Cambridge. He is currently leading a multidisciplinary research project into the social, philosophical and religious implications of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics,based at the Faraday Institute. He is also the President of CMF

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