Volume 12, Issue 4, Winter 2012
Joseph Meaney, Marina Casini, Antonio G. Spagnolo, MD
Objective Reasons for Conscientious Objection in Health Care
Conscientious objection in the health care field—that is, refusal on the part of a medical professional to perform or cooperate in a procedure when it violates his or her conscience—is a growing concern for international legislators and a source of contentious debates among ethicists and the general public. Recognizing a general right to conscientious objection based on individual liberty, and thus a subjective right, could have negative consequences. Conscientious objection in health care settings should be fully protected, however, when the objection is based on principles that are fundamental to the medical profession and the legal system. Examples from Italy and other nations show how protections there safeguard conscientious objection when a health professional objects to taking a human life. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 12.4 (Winter 2012): 611–620.