Freedom of Conscience, Medical Practitioners and Abortion in South Africa
IJRF, Vol 4:1, 2011
11 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 16, 2016
While the South African Constitution, along with most modern standards of human rights, recognises the right to freedom of conscience, there is in reality a concern that medical practitioners in South Africa who strongly believe in the sanctity of the unborn, might be pressurised to act against their beliefs (the same probably applies in many other societies perceived as being democratic and pluralist). Consequently, this article argues for the protection of the medical practitioner’s right to conscientious objection to participating in abortions. In this regard, special emphasis is placed on the complexity and gravity of views on the nature of the unborn. This argument, together with some critical thought on the place and nature of religion in a pluralist and democratic society, serves as a strong motivation for the accommodation of those medical practitioners who strongly believe in the unborn as being human (or at least as something worthy of protection).
Keywords: freedom of religion, religious rights, conscientious objection, reasonable accommodation, medical ethics, abortion
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