Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise

Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise (Basic Bioethics)Holly Fernandez Lynch

Review by Sean Murphy*  |. . .[the author] is seeking a compromise that will provide “maximal liberty for all parties.” She believes that freedom of conscience for physicians and the provision of legal medical services are both important social goals, and that they are not incompatible. . . . However, it is necessary to acknowledge what the author herself admits. In her view, the heart of the conscience clause debate is patient access to services. She has written a book about how to help patients obtain services when some of the gatekeepers who control access to them are uncooperative. It is not a book about freedom of conscience. . . . [Fulll text]

Don’t doctors deserve a choice on abortion?

Letter to the Editor
Baltimore Sun

13 November, 2008

Reproduced with permission

Jonathan Imbody*

The acerbic editorial “Bush rules” (Nov. 11) ironically accuses the Bush administration of attacking “personal rights” and then lambastes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for proposing a regulation to protect the civil rights of health care professionals.

The Baltimore Sun protests “extending the right to refuse to participate in an abortion to include an array of health care workers.” Which medical professionals does the paper deem unworthy of civil rights so that they should be forced to violate their conscience and the Hippocratic Oath?

Thankfully, shortly after the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade wrested decision-making control from the states and the people, a prescient Congress began passing laws to prevent coercion and discrimination against health care professionals on both sides of the abortion debate. Yet three major civil rights laws have never been implemented. Meanwhile, “pro choice” advocates, provoked by the fact that the vast majority of physicians refuse to perform abortions, have resorted to seeking to require participation in abortion.

A recent official statement of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists not only requires that physicians perform or refer for abortions but also demands that pro-life physicians relocate in order to refer patients to nearby abortion clinics. Our members report losing jobs and promotions over their commitment to life-affirming standards. The proposed HHS regulation is urgently needed to protect compassionate and conscientious physicians who are simply extending the life-affirming ethic and patient protections of the Hippocratic Oath.