Navigation Links
Doctors who perform abortions are compelled by conscience, just like those who refuse

Ann Arbor, Mich. Exercising conscience in healthcare is usually defined as refusing to provide contested services, like abortion. But in an article to be published Sept. 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine, a University of Michigan faculty member says doctors can be "conscientious" providers of abortion.

Lisa Harris, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System, highlights both historical and contemporary evidence that conscience motivates abortion provision. She cites sociologist Carole Joffe's study that shows skilled mainstream doctors offered safe, compassionate care before Roe v. Wade, risking fines, imprisonment and loss of medical license.

"They did so because the beliefs that mattered most to them compelled it. They saw women die from self-inducted abortion and from abortions performed by unskilled providers," Harris writes.

Harris says contemporary abortion providers are motivated by conscience as well: "Though today abortion providers work within the law, they still have much to lose, facing stigma, marginalization within medicine, harassment and the threat of (or actual) physical harm..However doctors continue to offer abortion care because deeply-held, core ethical beliefs compel them."

There are legal, clinical and ethical consequences of the false dichotomization of conscience and abortion provision, she says. Harris writes that federal and state laws continue to protect only conscience-based refusals to perform or refer for abortion, offering minimal legal protection for conscience-based abortion provision.

In addition, equating conscience with only the refusal to perform abortion continues to stigmatize physicians who are abortion providers.

"If physicians who offer abortion don't have a legitimate claim to act in 'good conscience,' as do their counterparts who oppose abortion, then the implication is that they act in 'bad conscience' or lack conscience altogether," Harris writes.

Harris says bioethicists have focused on moral claims to refuse care provision, largely neglecting that, as she writes, "moral integrity can be injured as much by not performing an action required by one's core beliefs as by performing an action that contradicts those beliefs."

Harris acknowledges that those who oppose abortion will likely argue that abortion providers have motivations other than conscience. While she disagrees, she says this highlights the importance of distinguishing claims of conscience from other types of claims:

"Certainly, if abortion providers' conscience-based claims require scrutiny, so do conscience-based refusals, to ensure that refusals are indeed motivated by conscience and not by political beliefs, stigma, habit erroneous understanding of medical evidence or other factors."

In addition to calling for recognition of "conscientious provision" of care, Harris calls for a standard curriculum and a standard of care for conscientious refusals.


Contact: Mary F. Masson
University of Michigan Health System

Related medicine news :

1. Few Doctors Discuss Exercise With Cancer Patients: Study
2. Worlds largest meeting of ear, nose, and throat doctors
3. Doctors Who Self-Refer to Radiation Clinics Add to Patients Burden: Study
4. Many U.S. Doctors Have Symptoms of Burnout: Survey
5. With Very Sick Infants, Doctors and Parents Often Miscommunicate
6. Nurses as effective as doctors in treatment of HIV patients
7. Doctors can now detect hard-to-diagnose prostate cancer
8. Humanities mini-courses for doctors sharpen thinking and creativity
9. Doctors often dont disclose all possible risks to patients before treatment
10. In muscular dystrophy, what matters to patients and doctors can differ
11. Doctors Spar Over Cholesterol Screening in Kids
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... DC (PRWEB) , ... November ... ... Inc. (AIS) is pleased to announce the speakers for “Value-Based Payer-Provider Partnerships: ... lessons learned from three innovative value-based care arrangements: Essentia Health and UCare, ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... around Novus’ TIGR® Matrix Surgical Mesh technology for soft tissue repair in the ... Matrix is a long-term resorbable surgical mesh intended to support and reinforce soft ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Puerto Rico (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... active part of the San Juan Beauty Show held on November 8th and 9th ... was attended by media personalities, hair artists, renowned beauticians and top of the line ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... are pleased to announce their strategic partnership at the Radiological Society of ... Service, Inc., and Winscribe, global providers of cutting-edge dictation and speech-enabled documentation ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... World Patent Marketing , a ... household invention that provides an economical and easy way of gaining customized curtains. ... at 2.6%," says Scott Cooper, CEO and Creative Director of World Patent Marketing. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015   VolitionRx Limited (NYSE MKT: ... tests for a broad range of cancer types and other ... Micro Conference, which will be held December 1 - 3 in ... VolitionRx will be David Kratochvil , Chief Financial Officer ... Investor Relations. ® blood-based tests for colorectal ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , November 30, 2015 PFE ... at up to 10 G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets ... to research and develop potential new medicines directed at ... multiple therapeutic areas. --> Heptares Therapeutics ("Heptares"), ... and wholly-owned subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation ("Sosei"; TSE ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... and REHOVOT, Israel , ... specialty pharmaceutical company focused on acquiring and developing innovative ... announced the appointment of Keith A. Katkin ... Gregory J. Flesher , chief executive officer for ... building successful organizations.  As chairman, he will be able ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: