Abstract Conscientious Objection or conscientious refusal (CO) in access to reproductive health care is at the center of current legal debates worldwide. In countries such as the US and the UK, constitutional dilemmas surrounding CO in the context of reproductive health services reveal inadequate policy frameworks for balancing CO rights with women’s rights to access contraception and abortion. The Colombian Constitutional Court’s holistic jurisprudence regarding CO standards has applied international human rights norms so as to not only protect women’s reproductive rights as fundamental rights, but to also introduce clear limits for the exercise of CO in health care settings. This paper reviews Latin American lines of regulation in Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico City to argue that the Colombian Court’s jurisprudence offers a strong guidance for future comprehensive policy approaches that aim to effectively balance tensions between CO and women’s reproductive rights..
Rebecca J. Cook, Monica Arango Olaya, Bernard M. Dickens
Abstract The Constitutional Court of Colombia has issued a decision of international significance clarifying legal duties of providers,hospitals, and healthcare systems when conscientious objection is made to conducting lawful abortion. The decision establishes objecting providers’duties to refer patients to non-objecting providers, and that hospitals,clinics, and other institutions have no rights of conscientious objection. Their professional and legal duties are to ensure that patients receive timely services. Hospitals and other administrators cannot object, because they do not participate in the procedures they are obliged to arrange. Objecting providers, and hospitals, must maintain knowledge of non-objecting providers to whom their patients must be referred. Accordingly, medical schools must adequately train, and licensing authorities approve, non-objecting providers. Where they are unavailable, midwives and perhaps nurse practitioners may be trained, equipped, and approved for appropriate service delivery. The Court’s decision has widespread implications for how healthcare systems must accommodate conscientious objection and patients’ legal rights.