Great new Perspectives piece by Lisa Harris out in NEJM on the need to recognize that conscience can compel action, not only refusals to provide certain types of care (including abortion). Elizabeth Sepper makes a similar argument in her forthcoming article in the Virginia Law Review.
First, let me just say that I couldn’t agree more – it is essential to recognize both sides of the coin. As I’ve argued elsewhere, both ought to be respected and protected, to a point, but the issues raised by conscientious refusal versus conscientious action are distinct in some important ways. The primary problem with refusals is that they can burden patients by creating barriers to care, if not managed appropriately. On the other hand, conscientious action would make care available to patients – and what could be wrong with that?