This roundtable will explore the ‘what’ of conscience in healthcare by asking what the role of conscience is in healthcare practice, and how judgements of conscience overlap with, and differ from, ‘other’ types of professional judgement, particularly clinical judgement (judgements involving the exercise of technical medical skill) and best interests assessments. What are judgements of conscience? How do judgements of conscience feature in clinicians’ practice? How do they overlap with, and how are they distinct from, other sorts of judgement in professional decision-making? Is it accurate/helpful to think of cases involving futility in terms of ‘professional conscience’?
Roundtable 2, Cardiff, November 2018 – ‘Why?’ Exploring healthcare as a ‘special case’: What is it about the healthcare context that makes it appropriate or necessary to allow conscientious objection?
This roundtable will explore why healthcare professionals should be able to withdraw from participation in certain work-related activities when professionals working in other areas (for example marriage registrars and social workers) cannot. Is there something distinctive about healthcare, or about the interventions where conscientious objection applies, that justifies the treatment of doctors and other healthcare professionals as a ‘special case’ in this regard?
This roundtable will explore the ‘how’ of accommodating conscience in healthcare and consider the advantages, disadvantages, and practical considerations associated with providing for conscientious objection in law and/or professional guidance. Who should be responsible for regulating/protecting conscientious objection? What form should regulation/protection take? Does existing law strike the right balance between protecting/regulating conscience? What is the proper role of (i) legislation and (ii) professional guidance in regulating/permitting conscientious objection?