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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude

Policy Positions

American Medical Association Policy H-295.896

 Conscience Clause: Final Report

The AMA has set out seven principles to guide exemption of medical students from activities to which they object for reasons of conscience. The Association recommends that discussion about conflicts of conscience be part of the regular curriculum, that medical schools establish procedures to allow students to be exempted from activities for religious or ethical reasons, and that students be apprised of the policies.

It is further suggested that medical schools "define . . . what general types of activities" may be the subject of conscientious objection, a potentially problematic aspect of the policy. Other problems may arise in interpreting the section that requires students to learn the "basic content" of the activity in question, or in applying the seventh principle that "patient care" should not be "compromised." Those who consider procedures like abortion, contraception or contraceptive sterilization to be legitimate forms of "patient care" are likely to apply the principle very differently from those who do not.

However, the attempt to deal with this issue and accommodate conscientious objection is commendable, and one hopes that good faith shown by students and administration will overcome difficulties that may arise in the application of the principles.








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