Abstract Patients who refuse a specific medical treatment for religious reasons must often overcome strongly entrenched presumptions held by physicians and judges, presumptions frequently based on personal values. A case in point is the refusal of blood transfusion therapy by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This paper rests on the following theory: The sanctity of life principle is not necessarily violated by respecting the autonomous decision of a patient who, for religious or moral reasons, chooses one therapy over another that may be favored by the treating physician. Where a patient has decided for conscientious reasons against a certain treatment in any given medical situation, the need to be informed will shift from the patient to the physician. The physician must understand the nature of the religious or moral conviction as well as his own moral and legal obligation to respect the patient’s wishes by providing the best Medical care under the circumstances.
Extract It is this author’s position that the concerns of the selective conscientious objector ought to be legally recognized, not because an exemption is granted to the pacifist, but because it is the right thing to do in a democratic society that is respectful of its members’ religious commitments. This is not proposed as yet another right to add to the ever-growing list of individual rights in our society. The point of this essay is not to argue implicitly in defense of liberalism by arguing explicitly for a right deriving therefrom. Rather, it is proposed that the recognition of selective conscientious objection is necessary due to the presence of two existent legal concepts: the free exercise of religion, already extended to pacifists, and the right to confessional neutrality. “Compelling state interests” simply do not, in point of fact, override confessional neutrality. The government’s arguments about the feasibility of determining sincere selective objectors, about the drain of manpower that it claims would occur, and that the selective objector is merely a “political” dissenter and as such should not be granted this privilege, are not convincing.
Abstract The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recognizes that there is justification for abortion on medical and nonmedical socioeconomic grounds and that such an elective surgical procedure should be decided upon by the patient and the physician(s) concerned. Ideally, the service should be available to all women on an equitable basis across Canada. CMA has recommended the removal of all references to hospital therapeutic abortion committees as outlined in the Criminal Code of Canada. The Criminal Code would then apply only to the performance of abortion by persons other than qualified physicians or in facilities other than approved or accredited hospitals. The Canadian Medical Association is opposed to abortion on demand or its use as a birth control method, emphasizing the importance of counselling services, family planning facilities and services, and access to contraceptive information. . . the association also supports the position that no hospital, physician or other health care worker should be compelled to participate in the provision of abortion services if it is contrary to their beliefs or wishes. CMA also recommended that a patient should be informed of physicians’ moral or religious views restricting their recommendation for a particular form of therapy.
Extract It was indeed a surprise to be informed by an eminent professor, after a hospital interview, that as a Roman Catholic gynaecologist “there is no place for you to practise within the National Health Service.” One had always assumed, quite naively it seems, that the British “system” is based on fair play and, above all, respect for the individual conscience. It soon became quite obvious that in order to stay in the specialty in Britain I would have had to change a conscientiously held abhorrence to the direct taking of human life. I chose to leave country, home, and family in order to practise medicine in full freedom of conscience.
Extract Despite the rulings in Roe and Doe, physicians, nurses, and denominational hospitals opposed to abortions have continued to refuse to perform them. They have argued that Roe and Doe, as judicial interpretations of the fourteenth amendment, do not apply to private activity, and that in any event the free exercise clause protects those who, for religious or moral reasons, object to abortion. These claims are not without difficulties. . . . Since Roe and Doe, Congress and many state legislatures have enacted laws to protect both institutions and individuals who refuse to participate in abortions for religious or moral reasons. These so-called “conscience clauses” limit the power of the courts to compel the performance of abortion where a refusal to participate is religiously or morally based. This article will explore the problems these statutes raise. The conclusion reached is that, for the most part, well-drafted conscience amendments are constitutional.
Stern MD. Abortion Conscience Clauses. Columbia J Law Soc Probl. 1975 Summer;11(4):571-627.
Extract In the reorganized Health Service it should be easier than hitherto for adequate teams to provide a comnprehensive service in obstetrics and gynaecology if there is the necessary financial support. High ethical standards, conscience, and differing religious beliefs, when associated with freedom, of thought and expression within the fellowship of a team, can prove enriching for the doctors and therefore beneficial to the patients.