Conscientious objection – does it also apply to nursing students?

Beata Dobrowolska, Roslyn Kane, Anna Pilewska-Kozak , Paul Linsley

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The conscientious clause in nursing can be defined as a kind of special ethical and legal regulation which gives nurses right to object to actively perform certain medical procedures which are against their personal system of values. Usually these values are associated with nurses’ religious beliefs, but not always. Scope of this regulation differs throughout the world. However, it is emphasized that right to the conscientious objection is not absolute and this regulation can not be used in cases of danger to life or serious damage to the health of the patient.

Medical procedures to which nurses hold conscientious objection are often within reproductive health services. However, we can also find reports on the use of this right i.e. in end-of-life care and in the process of the implementation of medical experiments. The main issue underlined in the discussion regarding practising conscientious objection in the clinical setting is the collision of two human rights: the right to conscientious objection of medical personnel and the right of patients to specific medical procedures which are legal in their country. If a procedure is legally available in a country it means that patients can expect to receive it, on the other hand, all citizens, including health care workers, have the right to protect their moral identity and the right to object to the implementation of a procedure to which they have a specific objection. It is very difficult to find good ethical and legal balance between these two perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
EventUDINE-C 7th International Scientific Conference -
Duration: 16 Sep 201320 Sep 2013


ConferenceUDINE-C 7th International Scientific Conference

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