J Med Ethics November 2013 Vol. 39 No. 11
I read Robert Card’s recent paper entitled ‘Is there no alternative? Conscientious objection by medical students’ with great interest.1 That Muslim students in America are able to conscientiously object (and this was entertained) to the cross-gender consultation is somewhat startling. I have just left the Middle East, where I worked as a medical educator for five-and-a-half years (2006–2011), and, to the best of my knowledge, even in the conservative, gender-segregated traditional Muslim culture of the United Arab Emirates, not once did a male or female student refuse to examine a patient of the opposite sex.
Several issues, many of which have been described by Padela and del Pozo,2 should be taken into consideration in relation to Muslim students’ conscientious objection to the cross-gender consultation on religious grounds. Although Islam prohibits touching or physical contact by the opposite gender, unless appropriate (eg, by a spouse), in some circumstances, the ‘prohibited becomes permissible’.3 Medicine is one such circumstance. Islam does not … [Full Text]
A paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues that accommodation of freedom of conscience by exempting students from performing morally contested activities is not possible in at least some circumstances. The example given is that of male Muslim students who are unwilling to perform physical examinations on female subjects.
Robert K. Vischer of St. Thomas University in Minneapolis warns against The Dangers of Anti-Sharia Laws in First Things. Such legislation, he says, “. . . proposes an unconstitutional double standard.” The attacks on the application of Sharia by American courts, which also apply denominational and private prinicples when adjudicating contract disputes, “fan the flames of religious intolerance while nurturing public acceptance of the notion that the religious commitments of our citizens have no place in our courts.”
“Canon law and biblical principles are not dirty words in the American court system,” writes Professor Vischer, “and Sharia should not be either.”
By Project advisor, Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina.
“Abdulaziz Sachedina is the leading Islamic thinker writing in Engish today. Thus, his Islamic Biomedical Ethics is a welcome addition to the already extensive literature in the field because of his great knowledge of the classical and modern Islamic legal and ethical sources, his authentic religious commitment to the truth of Islam, and his willingness to engage perspectives from other traditions in what is becoming a genuinely multicultural field of moral discourse.” David Novak, author of Jewish Social Ethics