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An obligation to provide abortion services: what happens when physicians refuse?
  1. C Meyers,
  2. R D Woods
  1. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, California State University, Bakersfield, USA.


    Access to abortion services in the United States continues to decline. It does so not because of significant changes in legislation or court rulings but because fewer and fewer physicians wish to perform abortions and because most states now have "conscientious objection" legislation that makes it easy for physicians to refuse to do so. We argue in this paper that physicians have an obligation to perform all socially sanctioned medical services, including abortions, and thus that the burden of justification lies upon those who wish to be excused from that obligation. That is, such persons should have to show how requiring them to perform abortions would represent a serious threat to their fundamental moral or religious beliefs. We use current California law as an example of legislation that does not take physicians' obligations into account and thus allows them too easily to declare conscientious objection.

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