While many professional organizations are in favor of limiting the exercise of physicians’ individual consciences (see, for example, AAP and ACOG), there is a long history of allowing physicians the right to choose what they do and don’t do, even when treating patients. CIR is not affiliated with any faith tradition, but some resources from faith traditions are included as explanations for readers with relevant beliefs.

Key Texts

  1. HHS: Know Your Conscience Rights.
  2. Christian Medical and Dental Association. Conscience in Healthcare. 2021. Full text here.
  3. Catholic Medical Association. Position Statement on Conscience. 2021. Full text here.
  4. American College of Pediatricians. Freedom of Conscience in Healthcare. 2020. Full text here.
  5. American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs. Committee Opinion 1: Hippocratic Objection to Killing Human Beings in Medical Practice. 2017. Full text here.
  6. Weaver R. Ideas Have Consequences. Birmingham: Alabama Policy Institute. 2005. Full text here.

Key Abstracts

  1. Jones-Nosacek C. Conscientious Objection, Not Refusal: The Power of a Word. Linacre Q. 2021 Aug;88(3):242-246. Abstract here.
  2. The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine: Upholding and Promoting the Fundamental Principles of Hippocratic Medicine. Linacre Q. 2021 Aug;88(3):321. Abstract here.
  3. Curlin FA, Tollefsen CO. Conscience and the Way of Medicine. Perspect Biol Med. 2019;62(3):560-575. Abstract here.
  4. Radlicz CM, Fernandes AK. Physician Conscience and Patient Autonomy: Are They Competing Interests? Linacre Q. 2019 Feb;86(1):139-141. Full text here.
  5. Genuis, SJ, Lipp, C, Ethical Diversity and the Role of Conscience in Clinical Medicine. Int J Fam Med, 2013;587541:1-18. Full text here.
  6. Sulmasy DP. What is Conscience and Why is Respect for it so Important? Theor Med Bioeth. 2008;29(3):135-49. Abstract here.
  7. Curlin FA, Lawrence RE, Chin MH, Lantos JD. Religion, conscience, and controversial clinical practices. N Engl J Med. 2007 Feb 8;356(6):593-600. Full text here.