Welcome to the Wild, Wild North: Conscientious Objection Policies Governing Canada's Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Dental Professions

14 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2013

See all articles by Jacquelyn Shaw

Jacquelyn Shaw

Novel Tech Ethics

Jocelyn Downie

Schulich School of Law & Faculty of Medicine

Date Written: January 2014

Abstract

In Canada, as in many developed countries, healthcare conscientious objection is growing in visibility, if not in incidence. Yet the country's health professional policies on conscientious objection are in disarray. The article reports the results of a comprehensive review of policies relevant to conscientious objection for four Canadian health professions: medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry. Where relevant policies exist in many Canadian provinces, there is much controversy and potential for confusion, due to policy inconsistencies and terminological vagueness. Meanwhile, in Canada's three most northerly territories with significant Aboriginal populations, whose already precarious health is influenced by funding and practitioner shortages, there are major policy gaps applicable to conscientious objection. In many parts of the country, as a result of health professionals' conscientious refusals, access to some legal health services – including but not limited to reproductive health services such as abortion – has been seriously impeded. Although policy reform on conscientious conflicts may be difficult, and may generate strenuous opposition from some professional groups, for the sake of both patients and providers, such policy change must become an urgent priority.

Keywords: conscience, conscientious objection, moral conflict, conscientious refusal, religious belief, moral values, conflict of interest

Suggested Citation

Shaw, Jacquelyn and Downie, Jocelyn, Welcome to the Wild, Wild North: Conscientious Objection Policies Governing Canada's Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Dental Professions (January 2014). Bioethics, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 33-46, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2367540 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bioe.12057

Jacquelyn Shaw (Contact Author)

Novel Tech Ethics

1379 Seymour Street
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Canada

Jocelyn Downie

Schulich School of Law & Faculty of Medicine ( email )

Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Canada

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