March 13, 2024

German bioethicists: abolish conscientious objection to protect the right to abortion

The battle against conscientious objection (CO) continues. Just published on the website of BMC Medical Ethics is an article by three bioethicists from Aachen University in Germany which argues that CO must be banned. 

They examined the experiences of women in a German city of about 250,000 people. They found that women who sought abortions often encountered difficulties in proceeding with an abortion, especially after the first trimester. They recommend that “a regulatory framework to monitor the practice of CO and restrict its practice if needed should be established.”

The researchers believe that mandatory referral is ineffective. Only removing the right to CO, as has happened in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden, will solve the problem. 

They conclude: “conscientious objection possibly imposes barriers to both early and late abortion provision and especially in the last procedural steps, which from an ethical point of view is especially problematic. To oblige hospitals to partake in abortion provision in Germany has the potential to prevent negative impacts of conscientious objection on women’s rights on an individual as well as on a structural level.”