In this Royal Society of Edinburgh funded project, we have established an inter-diciplinary, multi-jurisdictional Network of researchers and practitioners with an active interest in the issue of claims of conscience in healthcare and a commitment to accommodating these claims in some circumstances. The aim of the Network is to explore persisting questions about the accommodation of conscience in the healthcare context. These include questions about the justification, role, parameters, and legal protection of claims of conscience in healthcare.

There is a huge and growing academic literature on conscience in healthcare (and beyond), encompassing a wide diversity of views. Much of this literature reflects fundamental disagreement about whether claims of conscience should ever be permitted and/or protected in the healthcare context. While this debate is important, it is also important that intellectual space should exist within which those who broadly agree about the desirability of accommodating at least some claims of conscience, can explore fundamental questions and test new/speculative arguments, against a background of shared basic premises. ACoRN members agree the ‘basic premise’ that, for the purposes of the project at least, claims of conscience merit some form of legal protection in some circumstances (though we may disagree about what form the protection should take, and what the relevant circumstances are).