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The compromise of conscience: Conscientious objection in healthcare

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thesis
posted on 2021-11-14, 04:56 authored by Newman, Louise

This paper discusses a medical practitioner’s right to conscientiously object to providing a legally available healthcare service in New Zealand, on the grounds of their personal beliefs. Currently, the right to conscientiously object is enshrined in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act. This paper argues the current legislative arrangement regulating a health practitioner’s right to conscientiously object under New Zealand law is vague, and risks cementing uncertainty, due to scope of the protection being unclear. In addition, the current protection risks patient safety, as it does not exclude the right to conscientiously object in medical emergencies, or when the efficacy of the treatment is time dependent. To remedy this unsatisfactory situation, it is recommended that the right to conscientiously object in healthcare be rendered impermissible in the aforementioned scenarios. It is further recommended that direct referral to a non-objecting colleague be mandatory in the event a practitioner wishes to exercise their right to conscientiously object. This is because access to healthcare may be compromised by a practitioner exercising the right to conscientiously object, with no corresponding direct referral requirement, a risk borne by patients.

History

Copyright Date

2013-01-01

Date of Award

2013-01-01

Publisher

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Name

LL.B. (Honours)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Research Paper or Project

Language

en_NZ

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law

Advisors

Atkin, Bill