The Role of Conscience in the Practice of Medicine

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Are pharmacists required to stock and provide "morning after” pills to women with a valid prescription? Must physicians offer contraception to their patients? Can nurses be required to remove ventilators from patients who are expected to die? Whether health care provides legally and medically permitted treatments to which they object on moral grounds is hotly debated. Some argue that physicians have an ethical or professional obligation to provide such care. Others argue that physicians should not be required to compromise deeply held religious or moral beliefs. Legislation has been proposed and adopted that take both sides of these issues. The speakers will explore both sides of the policy debate about the role of conscience in the practice of medicine, including the ethical arguments that support each side and how the law has addressed this issue.

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