Facial reconstruction

Search LJMU Research Online

Browse Repository | Browse E-Theses

The missing voices in the conscientious objection debate: British service users' experiences of conscientious objection to abortion

Self, B, Maxwell, C and Fleming, V (2023) The missing voices in the conscientious objection debate: British service users' experiences of conscientious objection to abortion. BMC Medical Ethics, 24. ISSN 1472-6939

The missing voices in the conscientious objection debate.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Background The fourth section of the 1967 Abortion Act states that individuals (including health care practitioners) do not have to participate in an abortion if they have a conscientious objection. A conscientious objection is a refusal to participate in abortion on the grounds of conscience. This may be informed by religious, moral, philosophical, ethical, or personal beliefs. Currently, there is very little investigation into the impact of conscientious objection on service users in Britain. The perspectives of service users are imperative in understanding the real-world consequences and potential impact of conscientious objection and should be considered when creating and reviewing policies and guidelines. This research provided a platform for women and those who can become pregnant to share their experiences and opinions at a time when these voices are largely excluded in the great tradition of Western political philosophy and law-making processes. Method Five service users were interviewed using a narrative interview approach to uncover their abortion journeys and experiences of conscientious objection. Findings The findings were presented as found poems and uncovered that doctors are not always: informing service users that they have a conscientious objection to abortion, giving service users enough information to access abortion (indirect referral), treating them non-judgmentally, and providing medically correct information. Service users did not experience burdens such as long waiting times and were still able to access legal abortion. However, service users did experience negative emotional effects, as they were often left feeling scared, angry, and hopeless when they were not referred and/or were mistreated. Conclusions Findings indicate that conscientious objection could work in practice. However, it is currently failing some individuals on an emotional level, as not all doctors are adhering to guidelines. Conscientious objection in Britain needs to be addressed, to ensure service users receive fair, impartial, non-judgmental care.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2201 Applied Ethics; Applied Ethics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Divisions: Nursing & Allied Health
Publisher: BioMed Central
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2023 13:37
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2023 13:37
DOI or ID number: 10.1186/s12910-023-00934-9
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20857
View Item View Item