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American Journal of Bioethics.

Provider Conscientious Refusal of Abortion, Obstetrical Emergencies, and Criminal Homicide Law

Catholic doctrine’s strict prohibition on abortion can lead clinicians or institutions to conscientiously refuse to provide abortion, although a legal duty to provide abortion would apply to anyone who refused. Conscientious refusals by clinicians to end a pregnancy can constitute murder or reckless homicide under American law if a woman dies as a result of such a refusal. Such refusals are not immunized from criminal liability by the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion or by statutes that confer immunity from criminal homicide prosecution. Core principles of the rule of law require the state to protect the lives of all persons equally and to place the life and health of persons above any the interests of providers have in moral integrity or in respecting the moral status of prenatal humans. In some states criminal liability related to conscientious objection also applies to corporate hospital officials.

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Volume 18, Issue 7
July 2018