The Australian Medical Association Limited and state AMA entities comply with the Privacy Act 1988. Please refer to the AMA Privacy Policy to understand our commitment to you and information on how we store and protect your data.




Doctors' dilemma - medical treatment versus personal beliefs

29 Nov 2013

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

CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                          Kirsty Waterford                 02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

Published: 29 Nov 2013