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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Secular Medical Forum

The Secular Medical Forum (SMF) provides expert and professional advice and opinion to the National Secular Society (NSS) on issues related to healthcare and provides a forum for anyone interested in the intersection of healthcare and secularism.

The SMF's main objective is to advocate the value of secularism/religious neutrality as a professional standard in healthcare. The SMF welcomes supporters of all faiths and none. It opposes religious influences in healthcare where these adversely affect the manner in which medical practice is performed. It campaigns to protect patients from the harm caused by the imposition of religious values and activities on patients and challenges traditional religious privileges in healthcare service provision or decision-making.

The Secular Medical Forum was established following informal discussions at the AGM of the National Secular Society in November 2009. From 2010–16 the SMF was supported by the NSS as an independent affiliated group. In 2017 the SMF became part of the NSS.

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Membership of the Secular Medical Forum is intended for healthcare professionals (including current, former and trainee professionals) and those with a particular expertise in the intersection of secularism and healthcare. All requests to join will be considered after signing up to the mailing list.


Healthcare blogs and commentary

A selection of blogs and comment pieces on healthcare and secularism. For healthcare news from the NSS, please click here.

Abortion ruling is a missed opportunity to recognise the disparity in women’s reproductive health rights across the UK

Abortion ruling is a missed opportunity to recognise the disparity in women’s reproductive health rights across the UK

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 by Dr Antony Lempert

Ensuring that NHS abortion services are made available, free of charge, to UK citizens travelling from Northern Ireland would be a way of mitigating the harm caused by a disparity in women's reproductive health rights across the UK, argues Dr Antony Lempert.

Irish National Maternity Hospital: “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!”

Irish National Maternity Hospital: “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!”

Mon, 05 Jun 2017

The determination to give a hospital to a disgraced religious order, in spite of public outrage, is the very antithesis of secularism. But the episode has prompted calls for fundamental changes in the relationship between church and state, writes Keith Porteous Wood.

Stop pharmacies refusing prescriptions for emergency contraception on religious grounds

Stop pharmacies refusing prescriptions for emergency contraception on religious grounds

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 by Keith Porteous Wood

With the regulator considering curtailing 'conscience' objections to contraception prescriptions, Keith Porteous Wood urges supporters to respond to the consultation in the interests of vulnerable patients.

Sister Sarah Kuteh: up steps the next so called victim of ‘Christian persecution’

Sister Sarah Kuteh: up steps the next so called victim of ‘Christian persecution’

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 by Stephen Evans

It has been another week in which we've seen Christians in the Middle East losing their lives to violence and persecution, but much media attention in the UK has instead focussed around the plight of a nurse, supposedly sacked for "offering to pray with her patients".

Forced cutting of young boys’ genitals violates the most fundamental medical ethics

Forced cutting of young boys’ genitals violates the most fundamental medical ethics

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 by Dr Antony Lempert

Too often those who carry out forced cutting of young boys' genitals escape with gentle admonishment, rather than punishment commensurate with the severity of their actions, writes Dr Antony Lempert of the Secular Medical Forum.