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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2012

43 - Physician conscientious objection in anesthesiology practice

from 6 - Anesthesiologists, the state, and society
This chapter focuses on two specific populations of individuals often vulnerable in the conduct of research: children and prisoners. With children, prisoners, and other vulnerable populations, the challenge is to find the right balance between protection from abuse and the need to grant vulnerable populations access to participation in research. Necessary protections have two components: fair subject selection, and the specific care required to minimize wrongs to vulnerable persons once they are enrolled in research. As a group, prisoners are vulnerable due to their particular situation: being detained and therefore being deprived of the freedom to move freely. Several prison-related factors are relevant for ethical considerations about research involving prisoners. Studies designed to address health problems specific to a vulnerable population are needed to improve care for this very population, and often cannot be conducted on others.
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Clinical Ethics in Anesthesiology
  • Online ISBN: 9780511841361
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1* Benjamin, M. (1990). Splitting the Difference. Kansas: Lawrence University Press.
2* Cook, R.J., Olaya, M.A., and Dickens, B.M. (2009). Healthcare responsibilities and conscientious objection. Internat J Gyn and Obstet, 104, 249–52.
3* Lynch, H. (2008). Conflicts of Conscience: An Institutional Compromise. MA: MIT Press.
4Accessible at the American Medical Association website:
5Accessible at the American Society of Anesthesiologists website at:
6Accessible at the American Society of Anesthesiologists website at:

Further reading

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Bioethics. (2009). Physician refusal to provide information or treatment on the basis of claims of conscience. Pediatrics, 124(6), 1689–93.
Brock, D.W. (2008). Conscientious refusal by physicians and pharmacists: who is obligated to do what, and why?Theor Med Bioeth, 29, 187–200.
Cantor, J. (2009). Conscientious objection gone awry – restoring selfless professionalism in medicine. NEJM, 360, 1484–5.
Davis, J.K. (2004). Conscientious refusal and a doctors’ right to quit. J Med Phil, 29, 75–91.
Fjellstrom, R. (2005). Respect for persons, respect for integrity. Med Health Care Phil, 8, 231–42.
Lawrence, R.E. and Curlin, F.A. (2007). Clash of definitions: controversies about conscience in medicine. AJOB, 7, 10–14.
May, T. and Aulisio, M.P. (2009). Personal morality and professional obligations. Persp Bio Med, 52, 30–8.
Pelligrino, E.D. (2002). The physician’s conscience, conscience clauses, and religious belief: a catholic perspective, Fordham Urban Law Journal. physician’s conscience, conscience clauses and religious belief:…-a097823705. (Accessed November 5, 2008).
Savulescu, J. (2007). Conscientious objection in medicine. BMJ, 332, 294–7.
Sulmasy, D.P. (2008). What is conscience and why is respect for it so important?Theor Med Bioeth, 29, 135–49.
Wardle, L.D. (2005). Five reasons why rights of conscience must be protected. Linacre Quarterly, 72, 158–63.