Volume 92, 2018
Philosophy, Catholicism, and Public Life
A Defense of Conscientious Objection in Health Care
A Reply to Recent Objections
In this essay, I defend rights of conscientious objection against various objections raised on deontological grounds of rights and entitlements as well as on consequentialist, utilitarian grounds. Udo Schuklenk and Ricardo Smalling in their article, “Why Medical Professionals Have No Moral Claim to Conscientious Objection Accommodation in Liberal Democracies” raise various objections, including the Objection from the Rights of Patients, the Objection from Monopoly, the Objection from Religion, the Objection from Untestability, and the Objection from Inconsistency. This article also responds to the concern about “unconstrained conscientious objection.” It suggests that we can distinguish legitimate from illegitimate conscientious objection in part by means of distinguishing objection to particular kinds of procedures from objection to treating particular kinds of persons. Perhaps the most promising way of differentiating legitimate from illegitimate conscientious objection in healthcare is by means of the goal of the medical art understood as the promotion of health.