John Wesley was a keen amateur physician in an age when medical help was rudimentary and beyond the reach of the poor. He was ahead of his time in stressing the importance of hygiene and diet, and in experimenting with electrotherapy. His followers in the twentieth century, however, because of spectacular advances in medical science, face profoundly complex issues with which he was unfamiliar. In addition to Conference statements on contraception and abortion. (see Sexual ethics) Methodism has encouraged informed debate on human genetics, the status of the unborn human, the ethics of gene therapy, the issues involved in sex selection, the use of donated ovarian tissue and other matters which are emerging from the rapidly developing science of genetic engineering. In 1977 Conference adopted a Declaration on The Church and the Ministry of Healing, and in 1995 came a statement on the ethics of health care delivery, Limited Resources, Unlimited Demand. A 1974 Conference statement on euthanasia reached the conclusion that the need is not so much to change the law as to alter the attitude of society towards death.
The Methodist Church has participated in ecumenical discussion of many issues in the field of medical ethics and played a leading part in the production of the British Council of Churches Report Human Reproduction (1962).