Legal Duties to Respect Abortion Choices

Medicine and Law, Vol. 22, No. 4, p. 693, 2003

8 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2008

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August, 14 2008


This paper addresses legal protection of individual choices to obtain abortion services, to decline to perform abortions on grounds of religious objection, and to participate in these procedures. It considers legal duties to respect women as decision-makers in their own lives, including when they decide to continue pregnancy. The choice to decline participation in abortions is an aspect of religious freedom available to physicians, nurses, and, for instance, pharmacists, but not artificial legal persons such as hospital and clinic corporations. Refusal does not extend to ancillary functions such as serving meals, routine pre-operative and post-operative care of abortion patients or typing abortion referral letters. Physicians practising in proximate care must be trained in appropriate medical management of incomplete and threatened abortion even when they would refuse to apply such techniques to induce abortion.

Keywords: Abortion, conscientious objection, religious freedom, hospital corporations, clinic corporations, medical training

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard, Legal Duties to Respect Abortion Choices (August, 14 2008). Medicine and Law, Vol. 22, No. 4, p. 693, 2003. Available at SSRN:

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics