Saturday, 16 January 2016

Conscientious refusal / objection in health care: new article draft online, and an upcoming symposium

A while back, I made a post with a number of critical remarks on the idea of a legal right of health care professionals to so-called conscientious refusal/objection. That is the idea that such professionals should enjoy a guaranteed exemption from the standard labour law rule, that employee's are obliged to carry out legal instructions of their employer, in cases when they object to the practice they are instructed to carry out, or its legal status. I made the post mainly to get some opinions of particular relevance to current health care policy off my chest, but as it turned out, these ideas have attracted attention within the international community of more systematic research undertaken in this area.

First, the post lead to an invitation to contribute to a coming special issue of the journal Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics, guest edited by Alberto Giubilini and Julian Savulescu, on the very subject of the ethics of conscientious objection/refusal in health care.

Second, I was invited to contribute to a symposium on the same topic at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva in  June this year, organised once again by Julian, now in collaboration with Sharyn Milnes. My contribution to the symposium is entitled "All or nothing: The legal, ethical and jurisprudential basis of legal rights to conscientious objection of voluntarily employed professionals", and the contribution to the special issue also focus on the combination of ethical and legal reasons in this area.

The work on this article has been undertaken in collaboration with my Danish colleague Morten Ebbe Juul Nielsen, who made contact almost immediately when the blog post was online to suggest that we collaborate, as he had been thinking along the lines of some of the central points of the post already, and had started to scan the relevant literature in more detail. Said and done, the first result of our efforts, the submitted draft manuscript to the mentioned special issue, entitled "The Legal Ethical Backbone of Conscientious Refusal",  can now be viewed online here and here. As this submitted manuscript is undergoing review and will almost certainly be subject to revision, me and Morten are happy to receive any sort of constructive comments.