Welcome to the Secular Medical Forum

The Secular Medical Forum campaigns for a secular approach to current major health issues.

We are opposed to religious influences in Medicine where these adversely affect the manner in which medical practice is performed. We campaign to protect patients from the harm caused by the imposition of religious values and activities on people who do not share the same values and beliefs.

The SMF directs itself to the improvement of the human condition. SMF members do not recognise the assumed authority of religious bodies and we challenge their traditional privileges in healthcare service provision or decision-making.

Membership of the Secular Medical Forum is open to all health care professionals in the UK and their respective students. Non health care professionals are welcome to join the SMF as associate members. Please contact Dr Antony Lempert at antony@secularmedicalforum.org.uk.

Latest News

Woman died after denied an abortion was told: “this is a Catholic country”

14 Nov 2012

Savita Halappanavar

The Secular Medical Forum is saddened by the death of Savita Halappanavar, aged 31, due to septicaemia following a protracted miscarriage in Galway, Ireland.

It has been reported that Mrs Halappanavar repeatedly asked for her non-viable pregnancy to be medically terminated but this request was refused and she was told that Ireland is “a Catholic country”.  Mrs Halappanavar subsequently developed septicaemia and died.

The Secular Medical Forum believes that this death could have been prevented if Ireland’s law on abortion focused upon the need of vulnerable patients, rather than upon Catholic doctrine.  The SMF believes that healthcare should be provided free from the intrusion of religion.  Bioethics is hindered, not helped, by relying upon religious sentiments.

The SMF is aware that women around the world suffer due to the imposition of religious beliefs which takes away their autonomy over their own bodies.  If this case had occurred in the United Kingdom, it would have been legal for Mrs Halappanavar to have a safe abortion.  However in the UK there is the continual threat to abortion rights by religious groups who wish to inflict their particular beliefs upon other people.  The SMF defends the right of religious people to hold their beliefs; however, patients must remain free from unwelcome religious interference.

The SMF hopes that Ireland’s abortion laws are reformed so that this tragedy is not repeated.

More on this story from:




Letter sent from IHEU and NSS to Secretary of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

14 Oct 2012

An extract from the letter sent from IHEU and NSS (with SMF support) to the Secretary of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.


Letter sent from IHEU and NSS to Secretary of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 10 September 2012 (Extract)


SMF response to GMC consultation on Assisted Dying

14 Oct 2012

SMF response to GMC Assisted Suicide consultation submitted 3rd May 2012


This document contains the response from the Secular Medical Forum to the General Medical Council’s consultation on assisted suicide.


SMF response to court ruling against Tony Nicklinson

16 Aug 2012

Today’s sad verdict leaves Tony Nicklinson with a terrible choice. Because other people regard his tortured life as somehow sacred, or are fearful of societal

consequences, he is forced to endure his suffering or take desperate measures to end it. With no hope now of a quick release, he must choose between this torment and the torment of allowing his family to stand by and watch him starve himself to death. The law is failing people both ends up. People who do not want to die are not protected from unscrupulous relatives whose motives for ending their life will only be questioned when the patient is already dead. Those people, like Tony, who tell us quite reasonably why they would like to end their unbearable misery are prevented from doing so.


Letter to Mrs Merkel to protect German children from ritual genital cutting

17 Jul 2012

Dear Chancellor Merkel,

I am writing as chair of the Secular Medical Forum, based in the United Kingdom, which campaigns to protect people from the harmful imposition of other people’s beliefs.

We urge you to join us in offering our unreserved support for the recent Cologne district court ruling outlawing non-therapeutic infant male circumcision. Despite calls for condemnation of the ruling, especially from Jewish and Muslim organisations, we, and the Royal Dutch Medical Association believe the practice to be potentially harmful. More importantly, this ruling correctly places the welfare of vulnerable children above the unrestrained expression of adult beliefs… [read more]


Letter to Mrs Angela Merkel to protect German children from ritual genital cutting


Dr Lempert discusses ritual circumcision on BBC1

01 Jul 2012

BBC1 debate circumcision: Dr Antony Lempert

Following the recent German court ruling about infant circumcision, the SMF chair Dr Antony Lempert, was asked to debate whether or not infants  should be circumcised.

The debate is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and starts at 18 minutes 40 seconds:





SMF response to German court ruling that ritual circumcision is an assault.

27 Jun 2012

PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release 27th June 2012: no embargo

The Secular Medical Forum (SMF) applauds the decision taken this week in the German courts that ‘a child’s right to physical integrity trumps religious and parental rights’ following a circumcision operation on a young boy for no medical reason that led to medical complications. That religious pressure groups have challenged the ruling despite the known medical complications demonstrates unwillingness by members of those religious groups to place the safety of children above religious interests.

Where the child is not endangered, members of the SMF are not opposed to parents raising their children in accordance with their own values and beliefs. However, all children deserve to be safeguarded from non-accidental injury whatever the beliefs of their parents. Children must not be restricted from making their own choices when they are old enough to do so. Irreversible, non-therapeutic surgery, particularly on their most intimate body parts, denies people a choice and often causes significant harm. The SMF rejects any exception to the existing principle that a child’s body belongs to the child and later the adult, and that parents have responsibilities to protect the children in their care from all forms of serious avoidable harm.

A significant number of children suffer severe, life-threatening complications from a circumcision; an operation that has no medical, scientific or ethical basis. All children deserve to be safeguarded; society must not abandon them to ancient cultural rituals. It is likely that many parents requesting ritual circumcisions would reconsider their request if they were given the full facts as to the extent of immediate and long-term harms this operation can cause.

The SMF is disappointed that two motions on the agenda of the annual representatives’ body meeting of the BMA this week calling for all children to be protected from this harm have not been debated. We call on the Government and the BMA to issue clear guidance that the unnecessary cutting of a child’s genitals is a practice no longer to be tolerated in modern society.

For further comment please contact Dr Antony Lempert SMF chair: antony@secularmedicalforum.org.uk

The Secular Medical Forum is a non-profit company limited by guarantee working to protect patients from the harm caused by the imposition of other people’s personal religious beliefs. Members of the SMF do not recognise assumed religious authority and challenge religious privilege in terms of decision-making and medical practice.

News links:

BBC: German court rules circumcision is ‘bodily harm’

New Humanist: Clash over religious freedom in Germany as Cologne court ruling outlaws circumcision

The Jerusalem Post: Germany must pass law to protect circumcision

University of Oxford: “Religion” is no excuse for mutilating your baby’s penis


Discussion about about assisted dying hosted by SMF

19 Jun 2012

The Secular Medical Forum will host a meeting for reflection and debate about assisted dying at the start of the forthcoming British Medical Association’s Annual Representatives Meeting in Bournemouth.

The SMF hosts an annual meeting during the BMA conference to provide a secular alternative for delegates who do not wish to attend the faith-oriented Reflection & Thanksgiving service which the BMA organises and funds.

Previous speakers at the SMF event include Simon Singh and Peter Wilmshurst.

This year’s SMF meeting features Professor Raymond Tallis, chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, and Baroness Ilora Finlay, Professor of Palliative Medicine.   There will debate assisted suicide.

The SMF meeting starts at 17:30 on Sunday 24th June at the De Vere Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth (BH1 2EW).  There will be the opportunity to find out more about the Secular Medical Forum and to talk with SMF representatives after the talk.

Admission is free and open to all but space is limited. Please email Dr Antony Lempert if you would like to attend: antony@secularmedicalforum.org.uk

Within the SMF, individual members hold a range of views about assisted dying.  All are agreed that religious privilege should have no place in the decision-making process and that excellent palliative care should not suffer as a result of any change in the legislation. You can read the SMF postion on assited dying here