Abstract and Keywords
Conscientious objection in health care generally involves conflicts between health care providers asserting authority not to provide certain goods and services such as emergency contraception or abortion and patients seeking them. The conflict is may be exacerbated by objectors’ refusal to cooperate with others performing these actions. Equitable resolution of this conflict depends on the role responsibilities of health care providers and the availability of alternatives for patients. Protection of the integrity of providers should not substabtially limit patients’ access to needed goods and services, especially because of the power and knowledge differential between health care professionals and patients and the restrictions on patients obtaining goods and services through other means. Although professional obligations entail clear duties such as notification, informed consent, and emergency treatment, there is contining debate about obligations to refer and what constitutes discrimination. Organizations may make analogous claims regarding their integrity and similar systems should be developed to assure patient access.