American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics
Abstract Health care professionals may have moral objections to particular medical interventions. They may refuse to provide or cooperate in the provision of these interventions. Such objections are referred to as conscientious objections. Although it may be difficult to characterize or validate claims of conscience, respecting the individual physician’s moral integrity is important. Conflicts arise when claims of conscience impede a patient’s access to medical information or care. A physician’s conscientious objection to certain interventions or treatments may be constrained in some situations. Physicians have a duty to disclose to prospective patients treatments they refuse to perform. As part of informed consent, physicians also have a duty to inform their patients of all relevant and legally available treatment options, including options to which they object. They have a moral obligation to refer patients to other health care professionals who are willing to provide those services when failing to do so would cause harm to the patient, and they have a duty to treat patients in emergencies when referral would significantly increase the probability of mortality or serious morbidity. Conversely, the health care system should make reasonable accommodations for physicians with conscientious objections.
Abstract Twenty female Registered Nurses who had experienced being in ethically difficult care situations in paediatric care were interviewed as part of a comprehensive investigation into the narratives of male and female nurses and physicians about being in such situations. The transcribed interview texts were subjected to phenomenological-hermeneutic interpretation. The results showed that nurses appreciated social confirmation from their colleagues, patients and parents very much. This was a conditioned confirmation that was given when they performed the tasks expected from them. The nurses, however, felt that something was missing. They missed self-confirmation from their conscience. This gave them an identity problem. They were regarded as good care providers but at the same time, their conscience reminded them of not taking care of all the ‘uninteresting’ patients. This may be understood as ethics of memory where their conscience ‘set them a test’. The emotional pain nurses felt was about remembering the children they overlooked, about bad conscience and lack of self-confirmation. Nurses felt lonely because of the lack of open dialogue about ethically difficulties, for example, between colleagues and about their feeling that the wrong things were prioritized in the clinics. In this study, problems arose when nurses complied with the unspoken rules and routines without discussing the ethical challenges in their caring culture.
Extract We were astonished and disturbed to find that in our own hospital 100 infants every year are unwanted during pregnancy and are still unwanted after delivery, and that these are infants of married women with families. There certainly are, then, sufficient numbers of unwanted pregnancies resulting in unwanted infants to presume that they may make up the majority of the beaten and neglected children. We did not prove that they did make up the majority of these children but, as stated in the conclusions, it is a likely possibility.