Hughes, JA (2017) Conscientious objection, professional duty and compromise: A response to Savulescu and Schuklenk. Bioethics, 32 (2). 126 - 131. ISSN 1467-8519

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In a recent article in this journal, Savulescu and Schuklenk defend and extend their earlier arguments against a right to medical conscientious objection in response to criticisms raised by Cowley. I argue that while it would be preferable to be less accommodating of medical conscientious than many countries currently are, Savulescu and Schuklenk's argument that conscientious objection is 'simply unprofessional' is mistaken. The professional duties of doctors should be defined in relation to the interests of patients and society, and for reasons set out in this article, these may support limited accommodation of conscientious objection on condition that it does not impede access to services. Moreover, the fact that conscientious objection appears to involve unjustifiable compromise from the objector's point of view is not a reason for society not to offer that compromise. Arguing for robust enforcement of the no-impediment condition, rather than opposing conscientious objection in principle, may be a more effective way of addressing the harms resulting from an over-permissive conscientious objection policy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Wiley at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher
Uncontrolled Keywords: complicity; compromise; conscientious objection; professional duty; professionalism
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
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Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2020 12:10
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2020 12:10

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