(Jun 2018) Conscientious objection in medicine: accommodation versus professionalism and the public good

by Udo Schuklenk
Br Med Bull. 2018 Jun 1;126(1):47-56.
Doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldy007


In recent years questions have arisen about the moral justification for the accommodation of health care professionals who refuse, on conscience grounds as opposed to professional grounds, to provide particular professional services to eligible patients who request that kind of service.

Central to concerns about the accommodation claims of conscientious objectors is that health care professionals volunteer to join their professions that typically they are the monopoly providers of such services and that a health care professional’s refusal to provide professional services on grounds that are not professional judgements amounts to unprofessional conduct. Defenders of conscientious objection maintain that in a liberal society respect for a professional’s conscience is of sufficient importance that conscientious objectors ought to be accommodated. To deny conscientious objectors accommodation would reduce diversity in the health care professions, it would deny objectors unfairly equality of opportunity, and it would constitute a serious threat to the moral integrity of conscientious objectors.

Source: British Medical Bulletin