Abstract Recent legal efforts to force pharmacists to distribute potentially abortifacient drugs constitute a violation of conscience. This campaign of coercion violates religious freedom, professional deontology, and the right to refuse even material cooperation in acts of grave evil.
Abstract This article uses a chance encounter with a supermarket checkout clerk as an occasion for reframing contemporary debates about workplace accommodations and the religious politics of contraception. Scholarship on workplace religion has tended to assume a rigid distinction between the religious spaces in which conscience is formed and the secular spaces to which claims of conscience are brought. In contrast, I argue that we might productively redescribe employee claims of conscience as corporately produced, rather than emanating from the realm of the private or personal. I reimagine the workplace as an important site of ethical subject formation, as a space in and through which moral claims are constituted, rather than to which they are brought, and I explore how accommodations can produce the very differences they are meant to protect. In this way, my discussion reveals how legal mandates and corporate policies join together to produce new moral subjects.
Timothy Christie, John Sloan, Dylan Dahlgren, Fred Koning
Abstract Background: The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has ruled that the federal government is required to remove the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada that prohibit medical assistance in dying (MAID). The SCC has stipulated that individual physicians will not be required to provide MAID should they have a religious or conscientious objection. Therefore, the pending legislative response will have to balance the rights of the patients with the rights of physicians, other health care professionals, and objecting institutions.
Objective: The objective of this paper is to critically assess, within the Canadian context, the moral probity of individual or institutional objections to MAID that are for either religious or conscientious reasons.
Methods: Deontological ethics and the Doctrine of Double Effect.
Results: The religious or conscientious objector has conflicting duties, i.e., a duty to respect the “right to life” (section 7 of the Charter) and a duty to respect the tenets of his or her religious or conscientious beliefs (protected by section 2 of the Charter).
Conclusion: The discussion of religious or conscientious objections to MAID has not explicitly considered the competing duties of the conscientious objector. It has focussed on the fact that a conscientious objection exists and has ignored the normative question of whether the duty to respect one’s conscience or religion supersedes the duty to respect the patient’s right to life.
Abstract Conscientious objection (CO) is the refusal to perform a legal role or responsibility because of personal beliefs. In health care, conscientious objection involves practitioners not providing certain treatments to their patients, based on reasons of morality or “conscience.” The development of conscientious objection among providers is complex and challenging. While there may exist good reasons to accommodate COs of clinical providers, the exercise of rights and beliefs of the provider has an impact on a patient’s health and/ or their access to care. For this reason, it is incumbent on the provider with a CO to minimize or eliminate the impact of their CO both on the delivery of care to the patients they serve and on the medical system in which they serve patients. The increasing exercise of CO, and its impact on large segments of the population, is made more complex by the provision of government-funded health care benefits by private entities. The result is a blurring of the lines between the public, civic space, where all people and corporate entities are expected to have similar rights and responsibilities, and the private space, where personal beliefs and restrictions are expected to be more tolerated. This paper considers the following questions: (1) What are the allowances or limits of the exercise a CO against the rights of a patient to receive care within accept practice? (2) In a society where there exist “private,” personal rights and responsibilities, as well as “civil” or public/shared rights and responsibilities, what defines the boundaries of the public, civil, and private space? (3) As providers and patients face the exercise of CO, what roles, responsibilities, and rights do organizations and institutions have in this interaction?
I. Glenn Cohen, Holly Fernandez Lynch, Gregory D. Curfman
Extract At the tail end of this year’s Supreme Court term, religious freedom came into sharp conflict with the government’s interest in providing affordable access to health care. In a consolidated opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell (collectively known as Hobby Lobby) delivered on June 30, the Court sided with religious freedom, highlighting the limitations of our employment-based health insurance system.
Hobby Lobby centered on the contraceptives-coverage mandate, which derived from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate that many employers offer insurance coverage of certain “essential” health benefits, including coverage of “preventive” services without patient copayments or deductibles.
Abstract As a science and practice transcending metaphysical and ethical disagreements, ‘secular’ medicine should not exist. ‘Secularity’ should be understood in an Augustinian sense, not a secularist one: not as a space that is universally rational because it is religion-free, but as a forum for the negotiation of rival reasonings. Religion deserves a place here, because it is not simply or uniquely irrational. However, in assuming his rightful place, the religious believer commits himself to eschewing sheer appeals to religious authorities, and to adopting reasonable means of persuasion. This can come quite naturally. For example, Christianity (theo)logically obliges liberal manners in negotiating ethical controversies in medicine. It also offers reasoned views of human being and ethics that bear upon medicine and are not universally held – for example, a humanist view of human dignity, the bounding of individual autonomy by social obligation, and a special concern for the weak.
Abstract The duty of referral that objecting physicians owe their patients, and that hospitals owe members of the communities they serve, requires identification of and patients’ reasonable access to physicians (or other qualified health service providers) able and willing to undertake the lawful procedures that objectors find offensive. Referral must be made in good faith, since objecting physicians cannot ethically or lawfully practise deception or evasion to compel their patients’ involuntary compliance with objectors’ own religious or moral beliefs.
Extract In the first year of a celebrated graduate program in bioethics, one of us wrote a short essay about physician-assisted suicide that claimed that murder is not only a breach of rights, but also a “grave affront to all human existence as well as to He who grants life.” Well, that last part earned me a predictable scribble on the margins of my returned paper, something to the effect of, “What if someone does not believe in a Giver of life?”
An analysis of the death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland and similar cases
Abstract Issues arising from the death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland in October 2012 include the question of whether it is unethical to refuse to terminate a non-viable pregnancy when the woman’s life may be at risk. In Catholic maternity services, this decision intersects with health professionals’ interpretation of Catholic health policy on treatment of miscarriage as well as the law on abortion. This paper explores how these issues came together around Savita’s death and the consequences for pregnant women and maternity services worldwide. It discusses cases not only in Ireland but also the Americas. Many of the events presented are recent, and most of the sources are media and individual reports. However, there is a very worrying common thread across countries and continents. If further research unearths more cases like Savita’s, any Catholic health professionals and/or hospitals refusing to terminate a pregnancy as emergency obstetric care should be stripped of their right to provide maternity services. In some countries these are the main or only existing maternity services. Even so, governments should refuse to fund these services, and either replace them with non-religious services or require that non-religious staff are available at all times specifically to take charge of such cases to prevent unnecessary deaths. At issue is whether a woman’s life comes first or not at all.
Abstract Only when it is recognized that not all ‘faiths’ are religious and that all citizens operate out of some sort of faith commitments can we be properly in a position to evaluate nonreligious faiths alongside religiously informed ones. This re-adjustment of the usual way of examining matters then should lead, Professor Benson argues, to a more accurate way of viewing current education and politics (and their areas of avoidance) as well as such things as fair access to the public square by religious believers and their communities. The long dominance of atheistic and agnostic forms of social ordering (including funding for such things as education and health care) is based, in part, on a belief that stripping religious frameworks from public sector projects is ‘neutral’ when it is not.
In addition, the focus on a rights based jurisprudence has a tendency to view rights such as the freedom of religion in individualist ways that ignore the communal importance of religion. The paper will suggest that moves to put pressure on the associational dimension of religions ignore the communal nature of certain forms of belief to the detriment of a more co-operative society and far from encouraging human freedom, actually reduce it.
In the long run, the importance of religions and their communities to the public sphere – which has been recognized by the Constitutional Court of South Africa – will be encouraged by this fresh and more accurate way of viewing belief systems and the communities that form around them. The more accurate way of understanding both the reality of and the need for more articulate public beliefs, will, Benson argues, provide a richer ground for such things as public school curriculum which often drift in the face of fears of moral imperialism and metaphobia (fear of metaphysics).