Conscience and Competing Liberty Claims
Ethics & Medicine: An International Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 23-29, Spring 2013
20 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013
Date Written: March 15, 2012
Some treatment requests from gay patients seriously conflict with the religious or moral beliefs of their respective medical providers. Not all legal solutions to these disputes serve the common good. Therefore, this article proposes that state healthcare conscience protection statutes provide the most effective way to resolve these liberty conflicts and to serve the medical needs of all patients. Part one of this manuscript showcases four clinical scenarios that illustrate how a clash of liberty claims between homosexual patients and their respective clinicians could play out within today's hea/thcare setting. Part two describes the centrifugal legal forces that are shaping judicial opinion to favor sexual liberty interests over religious conscience concerns. Part three argues for a tri-phasic political solution. We encourage healthcare providers: (1) to present their state legislators with a conscience primer-reasons why, as legislative guardians of the common good, they need to care about conscience protection for healthcare professionals; (2) to prevail upon their legislators to sponsor and enact robust state health care conscience protections; and (3) to dialogue with the gay community and their advocates, making the case that, first, diversity of the marketplace is the most effective way to match the diverse needs of all patients and, second, a dialogical, rather than a coercive, method of accessing care is the best way to serve the good of all.
Keywords: Ethics, Healthcare, Religious Freedom
JEL Classification: K4,L3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation