Whether humans are "special" -- sometimes referred to as human exceptionalism
or uniqueness -- and, therefore, deserve "special respect" is a controversial
and central question in bioethics, and how we answer it will have a major impact
on many important ethical issues. . .
Freudians have said there is no conscience but only superego, behaviorists
that there is no conscience but only inhibitions. Anthropologists have said
there is no conscience but only mores, sociologists that there is no conscience
but only socialization. Now at last come those Johnnie-come-latelies, the
postmodernists, telling the students that there is no conscience but only
narratives. . .
Handling Issues of Conscience
In modern heath care the role of the physician is at risk of being reduced to
becoming a mere tool of the patient’s will. The doctor’s role will be just to
provide services that patients demand. Autonomy of the patient trumps all. This
view impoverishes our profession, degrades doctors to mere technicians and will
accelerate the moral wasting disease presently plaguing Canadian health care.
Dr. Larry Reynolds,
Personal Beliefs and Professional Duties: Maintaining Your Integrity
Ethical differences between one theory of bioethics and another may be quite
as dramatic as doctrinal differences between religions, though, like religions,
there are also similarities. Problems for ethical minorities arise when one
version of bioethics becomes predominant, and its practitioners attain positions
of influence and power in government, academic and professional circles.
It was quite a surprise. . . to be informed by an eminent professor of
obstetrics and gynaecology . . as a Roman Catholic specialist, that "there is no
place for to practice within the National Health Service . . ." [I]n order to
stay in the specialities in the United kingdom, I would have had to compromise a
conscientiously held abhorrence to the direct taking of human life. I refused
and as a consequence became unemployed . . . and had to leave country, home and
family in order to practise my chosen specialty in full freedom. . .
R. L. Walley, FRCSC, FRCOG, MPH,
Question of Conscience
An effort is also underway by pro-abortion advocates. . . to have the United
Nations declare access to abortion a universal human right. Healthcare
professionals who, despite such coercion, follow their conscience risk a variety
of legal threats. . . .[T]his state of affairs has caused deep concern for many
Respect for Conscience Must be a Social Value
[T]he people who would be asked to carry out the terminations of pregnancy
are the gynaecologists in this country, and as I've mentioned already, you know,
for religious, moral and ethical reasons most of my colleagues would be
extremely unhappy to be asked to do so. In fact most, I am sure, would not do
Testimony of Dr. Declan Keane,
Conscientious Objection in Ireland
Janet Murdock lived in Missoula with the four physicians, who, citing their
"professional obligation to relieve suffering," convinced a judge to legalize
assisted suicide in Montana. Where were they in Janet Murdock's 'hour of need'?
The Case of the Disappearing
Initially, when [Oregon's assisted suicide law] was designed, the assumption
was that physicians would be the first ones to explore PAS with patients,” . . .
“but in reality, nurses are usually the ones in the line of fire. Patients often
feel nurses understand their wishes for good quality of life and good quality of
Assisted Suicide: What Role
[W]hen professional associations are convinced that an act is seriously wrong
- even if it is legal - one finds them willing to refuse all forms of direct and
indirect participation. . . The GMC acted on this principle when it disciplined
a physician who provided information about the sale of organs but did not
actually engage in the practice [and] in recent draft guidance on assisted
suicide. Conscientious objectors who refuse to refer or delegate for
morally contested treatments act on the same principle, and it would be
hypocritical if the GMC were to discipline them for doing so.
Project Submission to the General Medical Council (United Kingdom)
The idea that, in assuming some function -- some career, for instance -- I
resign my conscience to the institution or to the state is perhaps the single
most pernicious notion in human history.
Crispin Sartwell, The
Fundamental Right to Refuse
The rights of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief are
fundamental. The ability to exercise conscientious objection is a keystone of
democracy. All of us should have the right to hold a belief and not be compelled
by the state to act contrary to that conviction. It is the difference between
the free society and the one subject to tyranny.
The major thrust of Islamic critique of the Declaration, however, is
its secularism and its implied hostility to divergent philosophical or religious
ideas. . . Perhaps the sore point in the secular human rights discourse, as far
as Muslim theoreticians of rights language are concerned, is the total dismissal
of anything religious as being an impediment to the modern development of human
The Clash of Universalisms: Religious and
Secular in Human Rights
[T]he arguments of Professors Cook and Dickens for mandatory referral are
unsupported and even contradicted by their own legal and ethical references.
Regulatory officials with the power to enforce the views of Cook and Dickens are
unlikely to discover this in the pages of the Journal, since, by
editorial fiat, the discussion was terminated with the publication of their
‘final word’ on the subject.
Postscript for the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada
Does man have any right to heal at all, and if he does, are there any
limitations on how it may be accomplished? Is every action done in the name of
therapy justified, solely because a physician performs it?
Daniel Eisenberg, M.D.,
The Role of the Physician in Jewish Law
This joint statement deals primarily with conflicts between the person
receiving care, or his or her proxy, and care providers. It offers guidance for
the development of policies for preventing and resolving ethical conflicts about
the appropriateness of initiating, continuing, withholding or withdrawing care
or treatment. It outlines the basic principles to be taken into account in the
development of such policies as well as the steps that should be followed in
Joint Statement on Preventing and Resolving Ethical Conflicts
When professional codes of conduct allude to 'personal values', and workplace
controversies about issues of conscience are characterized as 'conflicts of
values", it is past time to ask what meaning is conveyed by such terms. The
author holds that values language "obscures moral discourse rather than furthers
Iain Benson, Are
"Values" the Same as Virtues?
[T]he Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee asserts that it is "deeply
concerned about the increasing and largely unregulated occurrence" of the
exercise of freedom of conscience in Europe. According to the Committee,
too many European citizens in positions of responsibility refuse to do what they
believe to be gravely wrong. The Committee recommends that member states adopt
"comprehensive and clear regulations" to address this problem.
Project Submission to
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The question as to when a human being begins is strictly a scientific
question, and should be answered by human embryologists-not by philosophers,
bioethicists, theologians, politicians, x-ray technicians, movie stars, or
obstetricians and gynecologists. The question as to when a human person begins
is a philosophical question.
Dianne N. Irving,
When do Human Beings Begin?
This edition of Triple Helix highlights three possible changes in
British Law that could lead to Christians receiving criminal convictions.
Criminalizing Christian Behaviour- legally enforced political correctness
[T]he "implicit faith" of atheism or agnosticism when systematized in public
education is just the domination of public education by one form of (largely
implicit) faiths. But once we see this we see how wrong it is for implicit
faiths to trump explicit ones. All are faiths. Why should the opinions of those
who don’t know or refuse to articulate what they believe dominate those who can
say what they believe in and why they think it matters? Silence about the most
important things can be either wisdom or cowardice.
There are No Secular "Unbelievers"
The key to understanding conscience rights correctly is to recognize that
there is a world of difference between a law that makes me do something I don’t
want to do, and a law that makes me do something I have an
obligation not to do.
Taking (Conscience) Rights Seriously