What are Medical Conscience Protections?
Broad medical conscience protections in law and policy protect medical professionals, patients, health care payers, and health care institutions from discrimination, punishment, or retaliation due to their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.
In short, it provides these individuals and institutions with the right not to participate in procedures that violate their consciences.
Why are Medical Conscience Protections needed?
The task of protecting medical conscience is not a party-line issue. It is a pro-life issue, a whole life issue. It impacts urban and rural communities’ access to quality care. A future without these protections will cause hospitals to close and health care workers to leave the medical profession. Without medical conscience protections, you may lose your ability to have a say in your loved one’s end-of-life care. This is not an “other person’s problem.” It is an issue that impacts each one of us — as patients, parents, caregivers, medical professionals, etc. Taking a stand is about speaking up for the voiceless, the vulnerable. But it’s also about taking a stand for your loved ones, for your own health care, and your freedom and faith
What are the risks and challenges to society without Medical Conscience Protections?
- Increased violations of the basic rights and dignity of patients and medical professionals
- Religious hospitals and clinics are left with the choice to either violate their conscience or close their doors.
- In a 2017 study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 14.5 percent of all U.S. acute care hospitals were Catholic, including 10 of the 25 largest health care systems in the country.
- Decreased health care access and diversity in the medical profession due to fewer individuals entering the medical profession out of fear of persecution or discrimination
- Shortages in the medical profession could limit the ability of patients to freely choose health care products, physicians, clinics, hospitals, and insurance options consistent with their moral, ethical, and religious convictions.
- An acceleration of medical students and nursing students experiencing persecution because of their religious beliefs and moral convictions, with many afraid to enter specific fields of medicine because of these convictions.
- Health care providers leaving certain medical fields and even the medical profession altogether to avoid violating their conscience.
- Limitations create fewer options for patients and consumers to determine the best medical choices.
What can I do to help?
- Promote policies at the state and federal level that protect the right of conscience and religious freedom for medical professionals and patients
- Educate your family, friends, fellow church congregants or parishioners, and local communities about the urgent need to protect medical conscience and religious freedom in health care
- Revitalize support for medical conscience and religious freedom in popular culture and civil society
- Join the Religious Freedom and Health Care Campaign