David C. Baum Memorial Lecture

Objections in Conscience to Medical Procedures: Does Religion Make a Difference?

How should the government respond if people refuse standard med-ical treatment? What should the government do if people refuse medical treatment for their children, and what autonomy should teenagers be giv-en in making such choices? Is religion a proper basis for refusing such medical treatment? Furthermore, should medical practitioners have a privilege not to render services that they object to in conscience? This article analyzes such questions and proposes that the most sensible an-swers depend on context. Legislatures should sometimes create no ex-emptions, should sometimes create exemptions based on nonreligious cri-teria, and should sometimes use criteria framed in terms of religion. As a matter of constitutional law, statutes may often use religion as a criterion for a privilege, but even then, legislatures may choose broader criteria.

The full text of this David C. Baum Memorial Lecture is available to download as a PDF.