There are some pro-abortion politicians who support requiring doctors to perform abortions, even if doing so would violate their consciences. There are good reasons why a physician’s right to conscientiously object to abortion, contraception, sterilization, assisted reproductive procedures, and physician assisted suicide should be protected by law. First, some of the procedures that doctors conscientiously object to, such as elective abortion and physician assisted suicide, are considered to be morally wrong by the majority of Americans. Second, some of the procedures that some physicians conscientiously object to are unethical according to the principles of ethics generally applicable in the medical field. Third, a physician might conscientiously object to a morally objectionable medical procedure on grounds other than the intrinsic immorality of abortion or the religious beliefs of the physician, such as a danger to the life or health of the mother that might result from the complications of an abortion. Fourth, depriving physicians of the right to conscientiously object to abortion, contraception, sterilization, and assisted suicide infringes upon the rights of some physicians to freely exercise their religious beliefs. Finally, depriving physicians of the right to conscientiously object to these procedures forces physicians to perform morally objectionable procedures in cases where the procedures are medically unnecessary or where the procedures go against a medical judgment that is made in good faith.
It is essential that a physician’s right to conscientiously object to abortion, contraception, sterilization, assisted reproductive procedures, and physician assisted suicide be legally protected, even if there is opposition to such protections, since the religious freedom of health professionals is not the only thing at stake if conscience protections are absent. In addition to protecting the religious freedom of health professionals, conscience protection laws do protect patients against the harm that might result from the complications of medical procedures, protect patients from being forced to undergo medical procedures that might violate the religious beliefs of the patient, prevent health professionals from being forced to perform procedures that are medically unnecessary, prevent health professionals from being forced to violate their consciences, and allow physicians and other health professionals to object to procedures that might have dangerous side effects on the basis of a professional judgment that is made in good faith.