Conscientious objection to abortion, clinicians’ refusal to perform legal abortions because of their religious or moral beliefs, has been the subject of increasing debate in recent years. When not practiced appropriately, it can decrease abortion access, with profound implications for women’s lives. UCB – UCSF Joint Medical Program student Laura Harris collaborated with Bixby Center Director Ndola Prata and other scholars to research conscientious objection. The group recently published two papers:
1. Conscientious objection to abortion provision: Why context matters
Conscientious objection is usually understood as an individual’s personal decision. This paper, structured as a focused literature review, argues that it is critical to frame clinician’s conscientious objection within social, political, and economic contexts – including abortion stigma. Such framing helps make sense of how clinicians choose to claim conscientious objector status, and how their behavior may at times deviate from conscientious objection policies. Understanding and accounting for context is a first step in more meaningful regulation of conscientious objection that protects conscience and ensures abortion access.(http://www.tandfonlin
2. Development of a Conceptual Model and Survey Instrument to Measure Conscientious Objection to Abortion Provision
There is little data on conscientious objection from public health literature – especially regarding how objection is understood and practiced by clinicians. This article describes how stakeholder interviews in Colombia and Ghana were used to to develop a conceptual model and survey of conscientious objection. The model posits three domains of conscientious objection that form the basis for the survey instrument: 1) beliefs about abortion and conscientious objection; 2) actions related to conscientious objection and abortion; and 3) self-identification as a conscientious objector. These domains help capture the variety of ways clinicians can embody (or not) different aspects of objector status. Each domain has distinct, important implications in determining objector status, as well as public health and policy responses to conscientious objection. The survey instrument, which is included with the article, is based on this conceptual model. It is intended to measure prevalence of conscientious objection, and to gain insight into its practice in a variety of contexts.(http://journals.plos.org/plos
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