Doctors' dilemma - medical treatment versus personal beliefs


AMA Position Statement on Conscientious Objection

The AMA today released its Position Statement on Conscientious Objection 2013.

When a doctor refuses to provide, or participate in, a legally-recognised treatment or procedure because it conflicts with his or her personal beliefs and values, this constitutes a ‘conscientious objection’.

A conscientious objection is based on sincerely-held beliefs and moral concerns, not self-interest or discrimination.

Key recommendations of the Position Statement include:

  • a doctor should always provide treatment in an emergency situation, even if that treatment conflicts with the doctor's personal beliefs and values;
  • a doctor who makes a conscientious objection to providing, or participating, in certain treatments or procedures should make every effort to minimise the disruption in the delivery of health care and ensuing burden on colleagues;
  • if a doctor has a conscientious objection, they should inform their patient of the objection, preferably in advance; inform them they have a right to see another doctor, being satisfied the patient has sufficient information to enable them to exercise that right; and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the patient's access to care is not impeded;
  • doctors should treat patients with respect and dignity, even if objecting to the treatment or procedure;
  • a doctor with a conscientious objection should not be discriminated against; and
  • a competent patient's informed refusal to a particular treatment or procedure, even if based on their own conscientious objection, should be respected.

The AMA Position Statement on Conscientious Objection 2013 is at


29 November 2013

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Submitted by Farid Zaer (not verified) on

This also typical of judeochristian Islamic tradition to have beliefs that contradict scientific facts
Why continue to call yourself doctors of modern medicine if have beliefs from the late Bronze Age
And early Iron Age , become a priest and talk jumbo jumbo like talking serpents, and men walking
On water, and parthogenesis, and flying to moon on a horse . Keep your delusional ideas at home
And practice scientific medicine as far as we can ascertain

Submitted by John Goswell (not verified) on

The statement appears to be well thought out although point 1 still creates difficulties. We are stating that it is OK for doctors to have personal beliefs (which we all have) and that these should be respected except in emergencies. Are we saying that ethics go out the window in a life-and-death situation? I can think of few situations where it would actually be problematic, although the first one that comes to mind would be where the doctor is a Seventh Day Adventist and would need to provide a blood transfusion in an emergency situation. Whilst most of us would not identify with this situation it still does not mean that it is problematic and not covered by line 1.
Hopefully no doctor would condone torture, but if during war they were required by the military regime to be involved, I would hope that we would all refuse. We could quote the AMA position statement in our defense. However if the military regime declared it to be an emergency because lives were at risk, would we be required (as per the position statement) to forget our ethical beliefs?

Submitted by John Goswell (not verified) on

Given that the AMA position statement is about respecting the beliefs of individuals it is ironic that Farid Zaer should use this medium to vilify those who have beliefs different to his own.