Non-Roman Catholic Physicians Should Be Permitted to Write Prescriptions for Birth Control in Roman Catholic Institutions


Abram L. Brummett and Eric J. James


The legal and ethical asymmetry between honoring positive claims of conscience versus negative claims of conscience was recently analyzed by several articles in this journal. The first author of this article (ALB) identified unique but defeasible reasons against honoring positive claims of conscience, such as the greater threat they post to institutional values and institutional resources than negative claims of conscience. However, ALB wrote, when these reasons can be overcome, positive claims of conscience should enjoy the same ethical and legal respect as negative claims of conscience. This article argues that the prescription of birth control by non-Roman Catholic physicians in Roman Catholic institutions is an example of a positive claim of conscience that can overcome concerns of institutional values and resources, and therefore ought to receive the same ethical respect and legal protection as negative claims of conscience. In making this argument, this article also responds to several of the thoughtful comments raised by Alberto Giubilini and Dominic Wilkinson.



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