Accommodating Conscientious Objection in Medicine-Private Ideological Convictions Must Not Trump Professional Obligations

J Clin Ethics. Fall 2016;27(3):227-232.


The opinion of the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) on the accommodation of conscientious objectors among medical doctors aims to balance fairly patients' rights of access to care and accommodating doctors' deeply held personal beliefs. Like similar documents, it fails. Patients will not find it persuasive, and neither should they. The lines drawn aim at a reasonable compromise between positions that are not amenable to compromise. They are also largely arbitrary. This article explains why that is the case. The view that conscientious objection accommodation has no place in modern medicine is defended.

MeSH terms

  • American Medical Association
  • Conscience*
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Refusal to Treat / ethics*
  • United States