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Conscientious objection

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The phrase " conscientious objection " appears to have originated from the military service, but today it can be applied in other fields including education, child immunization, and healthcare. In medicine, conscientious objection refers to the right of providers to refuse to participate in certain types of medical care that they object to on religious or moral grounds. Most commonly, conscientious objection in medicine occurs when providers refuse to participate in abortion. However, conscientious objection is a much broader issue and may also apply to a number of medical and quasi-medical interventions including lethal injection, work with prisoners, futile care, and medical research. Conscientious objection is an issue worthy of consideration by every physician because invoking conscientious objection carries professional responsibilities as well as social, professional, and legal risks. In general, a physician will be better positioned to fulfill their professional responsibilities and minimize their professional risks if they prepare in advance.




Cheng, R., & Abbey, K. R. (2015). Conscientious objection. In Ethical Issues in Anesthesiology and Surgery (pp. 93–104). Springer International Publishing.

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