Healthcare Responsibilities and Conscientious Objection

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, No. 104, pp. 249-252, 2009

4 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2009 Last revised: 29 Apr 2009

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Monica Arango Olaya

Center for Reproductive Rights

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2009

Abstract

The Constitutional Court of Columbia has issued a decision of international significance clarifying legal duties of providers, hospitals, and healthcare systems when conscientious objection is made to conducting lawful abortion. The decision establishes objecting providers' duties to refer patients to non-objecting providers, and that hospitals, clinics and other institutions have no rights of conscientious objection. Their professional and legal duties are to ensure that patients receive timely services. Hospitals and other administrators cannot object, because they do not participate in the procedures they are obliged to arrange. Objecting providers, and hospitals, must maintain knowledge of non-objecting providers to whom their patients must be referred. Accordingly, medical schools must adequately train, and licensing authorities approve, non-objecting providers. Where they are unavailable, midwives and perhaps nurse practitioners may be trained, equipped and approved for appropriate service delivery. The Court's decision has widespread implications for how healthcare systems must accommodate conscientious objection and patients' legal rights.

Keywords: abortion services, conscientious objection, duty to refer, hospitals' legal responsibilities, limits of conscientious objection, patients' rights, professional duties

JEL Classification: I18, K10, J13, I10

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Arango Olaya, Monica and Dickens, Bernard, Healthcare Responsibilities and Conscientious Objection (March 1, 2009). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, No. 104, pp. 249-252, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1337165

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Monica Arango Olaya

Center for Reproductive Rights ( email )

120 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
United States

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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

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