Journal of Medical Ethics 3 (46):178-182 (2020)

Bruce P. Blackshaw
University of Birmingham
Daniel Rodger
London South Bank University
Conscientious objection in healthcare has come under heavy criticism on two grounds recently, particularly regarding abortion provision. First, critics claim conscientious objection involves a refusal to provide a legal and beneficial procedure requested by a patient, denying them access to healthcare. Second, they argue the exercise of conscientious objection is based on unverifiable personal beliefs. These characteristics, it is claimed, disqualify conscientious objection in healthcare. Here, we defend conscientious objection in the context of abortion provision. We show that abortion has a dubitable claim to be medically beneficial, is rarely clinically indicated, and that conscientious objections should be accepted in these circumstances. We also show that reliance on personal beliefs is difficult to avoid if any form of objection is to be permitted, even if it is based on criteria such as the principles and values of the profession or the scope of professional practice.
Keywords Abortion  Conscientious Objection  Mental Health  Personal Beliefs
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Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1136/medethics-2019-105566
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Tolerance, Professional Judgment, and the Discretionary Space of the Physician.Daniel P. Sulmasy - 2017 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (1):18-31.

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