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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
Periodicals & Papers



Dixon JL.  Blood: whose choice and whose conscience?  N Y State J Med 1988 Sep;88(9):463-4PMID: 3173836

J. Lowell Dixon

  • PHYSICIANS are committed to applying their knowledge, skills, and experience in fighting disease and death. Yet, what if a patient refuses a recommended treatment? This will likely occur if the patient is a Jehovah's Witness and the treatment is whole blood, packed red blood cells, plasma, or platelets.

When it comes to the use of blood, a physician may feel that a patient's choice of nonblood treatment will tie the hands of dedicated medical personnel. Still, one must not forget that patients other than Jehovah's Witnesses often choose not to follow their doctor's recommendations. According to Appelbaum and Roth, 19% of patients at teaching hospitals refused at least one treatment or procedure, even though 15% of such refusals "were potentially life endangering."

Doran K. Person -- a key concept for ethics. Linacre Q 1989 Nov;56(4):38-49  PMID: 11659199

K. Doran

Hampson FJ. Conscience in conflict: the doctor's dilemma.  Can Yearb Int Law 1989;27:203-25 PMID: 11651107

François J. Hampson

  • Introduction:  This note concerned with the age-old battle between conflicting loyalties. It involves the claim to a higher, rather than a competing, loyalty. If the state recognizes the doctor's right to obey the prescriptions and injunctions of medical ethics, even if they conflict with its own laws, then the doctor has no dilemma. The state, in recognizing the higher loyalty, makes it, as it were, its own. The state may not positively enforce the obligations of medical ethics, but it does at least recognize them as a reason for not enforcing obedience to its own injunctions. Even where that is not the case, a doctor is always free to follow his professional conscience and pay the price, just as the conscientious objector is free to go to jail rather than fight. The claim of those invoking a higher loyalty goes beyond this; they claim a right, not merely a freedom, which claim can only be vindicated if the state in fact acknowledges or is under a legal obligation to acknowledge it. States have, however, traditionally been reluctant to recognize any higher or even merely competing claim. . .

Kelly J.  Ecumenism and abortion: a case study of pluralism, privatization and the public conscience. Rev Relig Res 1989;30(3):225-35 (Historical Article) Publication Types: PMID: 11618067

James Kelly

  • This paper uses the Churches' responses to the controversy over abortion as a measure of the internalization of ecumenism. The data used in the essay include interviews with ecumenical officers and the minutes of the American Bishops Pro-life Committee. The main conclusion is that during the contro- versy "mainstream" Protestantism and Roman Catholicism reverted to post- Reformation and pre-Vatican II ideological roles, with Catholicism opposing under the banner of objective moral truth the legalization of abortion and liberal Protestantism under the banner of subjective conscience providing a belated religious justification to the legalization promoted first by secularist activists. This reversal to historic ideological roles actually distorted the more nuanced positions of these Churches in the controversy, but the lack of an ecumenical context obscured these shared tensions and prevented the Churches from contributing to a better public structuring of the moral ambigu- ities most Americans felt and still experience about abortion and the extent of its legalization. The essay concludes that only in an ecumenical context can religious pluralism lead to more inclusive moral commitments rather than to a further privatization of religion.

Liffrig LE. Nurs Decision-making and conscience: protecting values in a clinical area. Manage 1989 Feb;20(2):84   PMID: 2922176

Louise E. Liffrig

  • Frequently, nurses may find themselves asked to carry out actions contrary to personal ethics or to belief about what is best for the patient. If they had no part in making the decision and disagree with the action to be taken, they face an ethical dilemma: whether to perform the action or decline from participation in it. Consideration must be given to the nurse's obligation to the patient's good, to medical authority and to the right to act according to conscience. . .