The exercise of conscience is foundational to good medicine. It underlies
every aspect of good medical practice, to make good patient care
our first concern and to practice medicine safely and effectively.
Liberty of conscience is critical for individual doctors as it lies at
the very heart of our integrity and self-identity. It is conscience that
must compel doctors to refuse to participate in treatments they believe to
be un-ethical or that they consider not to be in the best interests of
It is not enough for doctors to simply be providers of medical services
on demand from consumers or third parties, providing all that is legal
whether or not it is consistent with their ethical base. To sacrifice
conscience and be concerned only with service provision is to destroy the
heart and soul of medicine.
Governments may legislate to permit certain practices or procedures but
governments must never force doctors to violate their conscience by
compulsory engagement in such practices or procedures.
Infringement of conscience is a serious challenge facing modern medicine.
Medical codes of conduct must never be subject to degradation by government.
Conscience in Medicine and sign the Declaration.
In 2008 over 200 Victorian doctors signed a petition challenging the
anti-conscience clause contained within the Victorian Abortion Law Reform
legislation which coerces all Victorian doctors to participate in abortion.
Doctors in Conscience for more information.