An revealing new study in the Journal of Medical Ethics examines the attitudes of medical students towards conscientious objection. The study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Oslo, canvased the views of 531 fifth and sixth year medical students in Norway. Students were asked about a range of procedures including abortion, euthanasia, ultrasound in the setting of prenatal diagnosis and assisted reproduction for same sex-couples. Students views varied significantly depending on the issue.
62% of respondents said they would object to participating in euthanasia – a surprisingly high proportion considering that the majority of Norwegians are said to support legalising euthanasia.
A far smaller number said they would object to participating in abortions (between 12.5% and 19%, depending on the stage of pregnancy and whether the foetus had disabilities).
Only a small number of students said they would object to referring patients for abortions (4.9%), and just 10.2% said that they would tolerate other doctors refusing to refer.
Norway has strict regulations on conscientious objection to abortion. Doctors are required by law to refer patients to abortionists, even if they have moral reservations.
This article is published by Xavier Symons
and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines
. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us
for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.