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Law, Religion, and the Physician-Patient Relationship 

Law, Religion, and the Physician-Patient Relationship
Law, Religion, and the Physician-Patient Relationship

O. Carter Snead

and Michael P. Moreland

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date: 16 September 2021

This essay explores a range of legal and moral issues regarding the role of conscience in medicine. In Part One, we survey some of the leading recent contributions to the debate over physician conscience, both those arguing against such claims of conscience by physicians and those arguing for a broad protection for a physician’s refusal to participate in or perform certain procedures. Second, we address the legal issues surrounding claims based on a physician’s conscientious objection or other forms of religious expression in medical practice. Such claims are at the intersection of two lines of cases, statutes, and regulations in current law: informed consent in medicine and freedom of religion. In the final part of this essay, we briefly argue for a broad space for a physician’s religious or moral beliefs in the clinical setting by drawing on the work of Alasdair MacIntyre on moral fragmentation.

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