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Picking apart conscientious objection in healthcare

How much should healthcare be left up to a clinician’s own discretion?

This question will be unpacked by Dr Doug McConnell, from Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) School of Humanities and Social Sciences, at a conference focused on conscientious objection.

McConnell will delve into the issue of discretionary space and argue for it to be relatively narrow and limited by professional policies.

Co-hosted by CSU and Macquarie University, the conference in Sydney will run on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 September.

International and Australian philosophers and bioethicists will explore the ethical challenges posed by healthcare professionals who opt out of taking part in treatments or practices on the grounds of conscientious objection.

McConnell said conscientious objection by healthcare professionals is one of the most important issues in healthcare ethics.

"Refusing to treat a patient or perform a medical procedure poses obvious problems for patients and limits their access to the care they are entitled to receive,” he explained. "This dilemma will only grow with medical advancements such as embryonic stem cell therapies, genetic selection, or human enhancement.”

Nursing Review spoke with McConnell about the complexities of conscientious objection and key arguments speakers will present at the conference.

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