Conscientious Objection, Emergency Contraception, and Public Policy

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (1):53-68 (2011)
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Abstract

Defenders of medical professionals’ rights to conscientious objection (CO) regarding emergency contraception (EC) draw an analogy to CO in the military. Such professionals object to EC since it has the possibility of harming zygotic life, yet if we accept this analogy and utilize jurisprudence to frame the associated public policy, those who refuse to dispense EC would not have their objection honored. Legal precedent holds that one must consistently object to all forms of the relevant activity. In the case at hand, then, I argue that these professionals must also oppose morally innocuous practices that may prevent pregnancy after fertilization. These results reveal that such objectors cannot offer a plausible and consistent objection to harming zygotic life. Additionally, there are good reasons to reject the analogy itself. In either case, these findings call into question the case supporting refusals of EC based on scruples.

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Robert F. Card
University of Rochester

References found in this work

Private Conscience, Public Acts.Eva LaFollette & Hugh LaFollette - 2007 - Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (5):249-254.
Pharmacies, pharmacists, and conscientious objection.Mark R. Wicclair - 2006 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 16 (3):225-250.
The rhythm method and embryonic death.Luc Bovens - 2006 - Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (6):355-356.

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