Protecting Conscience in Health Care: A Road Not Traveled.



Date of this version


Document Type



human rights, conscience, abortion, euthanasia, contraception, mutilation, morality, Catholic, health care


The current approach to guaranteeing rights of conscience depends on the recognition of a human (and constitutional) right not to be required to cooperate in actions one deems immoral, such as abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and mutilation. But in the culture at large, arguments made within a moral and religious framework may be ineffective. The author suggests that health care workers consider a basis for refusal that may be both simpler and more effective: refusing to do such actions not because one is Catholic but because the actions are the very opposite of health care.

Published in

National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly,

Citation/Other Information

Heaney, S. (2008). Protecting conscience in health care: A road not traveled. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 8(4), 673-680.