Conscience vs. Patients

Lecture by Professor James Childress on Conscientious Refusal in Health Care

 On monday, May 16, 6.30 p.m. medical ethicist Professor James F. Childress (University of Virginia) will give a lecture at the University of Münster on problems of conscientious refusal in health care. The public lecture entitled "Respecting Conscience, Protecting Patients: An Unresolved Tension in Health Care" will take place at the lecture hall of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Roentgenstrasse 20.

Should the state, institutions, and health professions exempt conscientiously objecting physicians, nurses, and others from the performance or provision of ethically controversial services, procedures, or products that are legal, ordinarily expected, and/or sought by patients? After setting the context by discussing several cases and controversies in different countries, this lecture will examine the contours and scope of conscientious refusals in health care­—with attention, for example, to universal and selective refusals, religious and secular refusals, and narrow and broad interpretations of „participation“ in wrong-doing. Several proposals for striking a balance between respecting conscience and protecting patients will be evaluated before offering and defending a particular proposal.

James F. Childress is the John Allen Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics and Professor of Medical Education at the University of Virginia. Childress is the author of numerous articles and several books in ethics, especially biomedical and political ethics. His books include Principles of Biomedical Ethics (with Tom L. Beauchamp), Priorities in Biomedical Ethics; Who Should Decide? Paternalism in Health Care; and Practical Reasoning in Bioethics. James Childress served on several bioethical committees including the presidentially appointed National Bioethics Advisory Commission. In May and June 2011 he is a fellow of the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics at the University of Münster.