Conscientious Objection in Health Care

Conscientious Objection in Health Care : An Ethical Analysis

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Historically associated with military service, conscientious objection has become a significant phenomenon in health care. Mark Wicclair offers a comprehensive ethical analysis of conscientious objection in three representative health care professions: medicine, nursing and pharmacy. He critically examines two extreme positions: the 'incompatibility thesis', that it is contrary to the professional obligations of practitioners to refuse provision of any service within the scope of their professional competence; and 'conscience absolutism', that they should be exempted from performing any action contrary to their conscience. He argues for a compromise approach that accommodates conscience-based refusals within the limits of specified ethical constraints. He also explores conscientious objection by students in each of the three professions, discusses conscience protection legislation and conscience-based refusals by pharmacies and hospitals, and analyzes several cases. His book is a valuable resource for scholars, professionals, trainees, students, and anyone interested in this increasingly important aspect of health care.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 264 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139097881
  • 9781139097888

About Mark R. Wicclair

Mark R. Wicclair is Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Community Medicine at West Virginia University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Center for Bioethics and Health Law, University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Ethics and the Elderly (1993) and is on the editorial board of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics.
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Review quote

'This is an excellent book full of rich insight and systematic discussion of key issues relating to conscientious objection. It will be the key reference for all future work on this topic. Mark Wicclair provides a convincing structure for thinking about conscientious objection and a sophisticated and deep analysis of this increasingly important aspect of health care. It is particularly noteworthy that he considers not just physicians, but also nurses, pharmacists, and students.' Angus Dawson, University of Keele
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Table of contents

Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. Three approaches to conscientious objection in health care: conscience absolutism, the incompatibility thesis, and compromise; 3. Ethical limitations on the exercise of conscience; 4. Pharmacies, health care institutions, and conscientious objection; 5. Students, residents, and conscience-based exemptions; 6. Conscience clauses: too little and too much protection; References.
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