- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/bioethicists-challenge-right-to-conscientious-objection/11988#sthash.uGb48ZVe.dpuf
The debate surrounding conscientious objection in healthcare has intensified in recent months, with a number of influential bioethicists campaigning for tight restrictions on doctors' right to object to participation in controversial procedures.
After a special workshop held at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, over a dozen bioethicists signed a ten-point "Consensus Statement on Conscientious Objection in Healthcare". The group stated that "healthcare practitioners’ primary obligations are towards their patients, not towards their own personal conscience". As a consequence, "healthcare practitioners who are exempted from performing certain medical procedures on conscientious grounds should be required to compensate society and the health system for their failure to fulfil their professional obligations by providing public-benefitting services." They also stated that "Medical students should not be exempted from learning how to perform basic medical procedures they consider to be morally wrong."
American bioethicist Wesley Smith was indignant. Writing in the National Review, Smith said: "Medical professionals are being pushed toward what I call 'medical martyrdom;' either be complicit in killing, commit what the professional considers a grievous sin, or suffer professional discipline, perhaps even loss of license."
On Friday, an Australian research team with a substantial Australian Research Council Discovery Grant met in Canberra for a workshop on conscientious objection. The tenor of the discussion was more moderate than than that of the consensus statement, yet the speakers argued that restrictions on conscientious objection were appropriate in some cases.In a presentation entitled Doctors Have No Right to Refuse Medical Assistance in Dying, Abortion or Contraception, Oxford's Julian Savulescu argued that debates about public policy should affect the provision of procedures that are both legal and consistent with medical ethics. "Reason and values should be within the framework of medical ethics and law", Savulescu said. "At the bedside you have to do your job". Recordings of the workshop will shortly be available on the website of theCentre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE).
From an ethical point of view, IVF is made of teflon. Just about nothing sticks. It's understandable, since its product line is the joyful experience of cradling a newborn baby. However, there have always been some dark clouds hanging over IVF. What works always seems to have trumped what's safe. But clinicians are beginning to realise that some IVF techniques could be responsible for serious health problems for IVF children decades later.
As we report below, the editor of the leading journal Human Reproduction warns that changes are needed. “It’s not possible to sell a single drug on the market if you do not give the total composition of the drug, but for such an important thing as culture media, that envelopes the whole embryo, you can sell it without revealing its contents. For me, that’s unacceptable,” he says. “Compared to the rest of medicine, this is such a backward area. We can’t accept it any longer.”
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