Professional right of conscience

J Midwifery Womens Health. Sep-Oct 2008;53(5):406-12; quiz 487-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2008.05.009.


In recent years there have been numerous media reports of professionals attempting to expand the right of conscience and deny health care services requested by consumers. While the media has focused the most attention on pharmacists' right to refuse access to contraception, this trend is an expansion of the right originally established to protect professionals from being required to perform abortions or to provide direct assistance with abortions. State legislatures have addressed this issue, in some cases by overtly protecting consumers' rights and in other cases by broadening professional right of conscience. In this article, the literature on provider right of conscience is reviewed, and approaches advised by professional organizations are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / ethics
  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Conscience
  • Contraception / ethics
  • Counseling
  • Ethics, Clinical*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / ethics*
  • Health Personnel / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Patient Rights
  • Pregnancy
  • Refusal to Treat / ethics
  • Refusal to Treat / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Refusal to Treat / statistics & numerical data
  • United States