(Mar 2011) The questionable ethics of unregulated conscientious refusal

At best, unregulated conscientious objection is an accident waiting to happen. At worst, it is a sword wielded by the pious against the vulnerable with catastrophic results

Leslie Cannold
ABC Religion and Ethics
25 Mar 2011

Often misrepresented in public debates by opponents of legal abortion, the clause attempts to balance a woman’s rights (her right to autonomy, religious freedom, timely medical and reproductive healthcare) against an individual health practitioner’s right to conscientious refusal. It does this by requiring the practitioners to inform the woman of his objection and to refer the woman to a qualified practitioner who does not object.

Only in an emergency – where the refusal of the practitioners to perform an abortion means the woman will die – does the law deny practitioners an exemption to their standing obligation to treat.

Conflict over medical refusal rights is a red-hot issue across the world. This is because conscientious refusal is largely unregulated and, as a result, there has been an explosion of individuals and institutions refusing care to a growing pool of patients.

Source: ABC news