HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Conscience Clauses

Ellen Goodman has a further examination of such laws in her Washington Post column from Friday.  She focuses on the conscience of the woman.  She states,

The pharmacist who refuses emergency contraception is not just following his moral code, he's trumping the moral beliefs of the doctor and the patient. "If you open the door to this, I don't see any place to draw a line," says Anita Allen, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of "The New Ethics." If the pharmacist is officially sanctioned as the moral arbiter of the drugstore, does he then ask the customer whether the pills are for cramps or contraception? If he's parsing his conscience with each prescription, can he ask if the morning-after pill is for carelessness or rape? For that matter, can his conscience be the guide to second-guessing Ritalin as well as Viagra? . . . .

Yes, we want people to have a strong moral compass. But they have to coexist with others whose compasses point in another direction. In the debate over conscience clauses, Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice says, properly, "There is very little recognition that the conscience of the woman is as important, let alone more important, than the conscience of the provider."

For another viewpoint, a rather more sarcastic one, see The Illustrated Daily Scribble.  [bm]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/2005/04/conscience_clau.html

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