Why medical professionals have no moral claim to conscientious objection accommodation in liberal democracies.
by Udo Schuklenk, R Smalling
Journal of Medical Ethics April 2017;43(4):234-40. DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2016-103560
“We describe a number of conscientious objection cases in a liberal Western democracy. These cases strongly suggest that the typical conscientious objector does not object to unreasonable, controversial professional services – involving torture, for instance – but to the provision of professional services that are both uncontroversially legal and that patients are entitled to receive. We analyse the conflict between these patients’ access rights and the conscientious objection accommodation demanded by monopoly providers of such healthcare services. It is implausible that professionals who voluntarily join a profession should be endowed with a legal claim not to provide services that are within the scope of the profession’s practice and that society expects them to provide. We discuss common counterarguments to this view and reject all of them.”
Response to: ‘Why medical professionals have no moral claim to conscientious objection accommodation in liberal democracies’ by Schuklenk and Smalling
Richard J Lyus
Journal of Medical Ethics April 2017;43(4):250-52. DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2015-103643
“Bioethicists commenting on conscientious objection and abortion should consider the empirical data on abortion providers. Abortion providers do not fall neatly into groups of providers and objectors, and ambivalence is a key theme in their experience. Practical details of abortion services further upset the dichotomy. These empirical facts are important because they demonstrate that the way the issue is described in analytical bioethics does not reflect reality. Addressing conscientious objection as a barrier to patient access requires engaging with those who provide the service and those who are able to but do not. The experiences of doctors facing these decisions potentially challenge and expand our understanding of the issue as an ethical concern.”