Against the accommodation of subjective healthcare provider beliefs in medicine: counteracting supporters of conscientious objector accommodation arguments

J Med Ethics. 2017 Apr;43(4):253-256. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2016-103883. Epub 2016 Oct 31.


We respond in this paper to various counter arguments advanced against our stance on conscientious objection accommodation. Contra Maclure and Dumont, we show that it is impossible to develop reliable tests for conscientious objectors' claims with regard to the reasonableness of the ideological basis of their convictions, and, indeed, with regard to whether they actually hold they views they claim to hold. We demonstrate furthermore that, within the Canadian legal context, the refusal to accommodate conscientious objectors would not constitute undue hardship for such objectors. We reject concerns that refusing to accommodate conscientious objectors would limit the equality of opportunity for budding professionals holding particular ideological positions. We also clarify various misrepresentations of our views by respondents Symons, Glick and Jotkowitz, and Lyus.

Keywords: Abortion; Conscientious Objection; Euthanasia.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bioethical Issues* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Canada
  • Conscience*
  • Dissent and Disputes / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Ethical Relativism*
  • Health Personnel / ethics*
  • Health Personnel / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Morals
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Refusal to Treat / ethics*
  • Refusal to Treat / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Religion