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
Date Written: March 1, 2009
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: Suggested Citation