Response to: 'Why medical professionals have no moral claim to conscientious objection accommodation in liberal democracies' by Schuklenk and Smalling

J Med Ethics. 2017 Apr;43(4):250-252. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2015-103643.


Bioethicists commenting on conscientious objection and abortion should consider the empirical data on abortion providers. Abortion providers do not fall neatly into groups of providers and objectors, and ambivalence is a key theme in their experience. Practical details of abortion services further upset the dichotomy. These empirical facts are important because they demonstrate that the way the issue is described in analytical bioethics does not reflect reality. Addressing conscientious objection as a barrier to patient access requires engaging with those who provide the service and those who are able to but do not. The experiences of doctors facing these decisions potentially challenge and expand our understanding of the issue as an ethical concern.

Keywords: Abortion; Conscientious Objection; Reproductive Medicine.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Conscience*
  • Democracy*
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations
  • Physicians / ethics*
  • Politics*
  • Professionalism / ethics*
  • Refusal to Treat / ethics*