How do health care providers understand the social basis of conscience?

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bbag-icon-decWhat people mean when they say “I can’t do that, it violates my conscience”

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“Conscience clause” legislation, first enacted following Roe v. Wade, intends to protect a health care provider’s (HCP) right to refuse services on the basis of conscience. And yet, 40 years later, the precise meaning of conscience is not well understood. When conscience is defined, it is in abstract, theoretical terms that are removed from the meaning of conscience in day-to-day practice. We use a sociological perspective to challenge this asocial depiction: while individuals act on their consciences, one’s conscience has a social basis. Using interviews with 61 care providers we identify the social basis of conscience and how health care providers understand it in their everyday practice, examining the conditions under which conscience is invoked in the process of deciding whether or not to perform a medical procedure. University of Michigan “conscience” research team collaborators: Lisa Harris, MD, PhD; Danielle Czarnecki, MA; Mercedes Dunn, BA; Katie Hauschildt, BA; Renee Anspach, PhD.

apr-15-bbagJoin us for Raymond De Vries’ lecture on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 from noon till 1 pm in person or online.

Raymond G. De Vries, PhD, is Professor and co-Director in the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine ( at the University of Michigan. He is the author of A Pleasing Birth: Midwifery and Maternity Care in the Netherlands (Temple University Press, 2005), and co-editor of The View from Here: Bioethics and the Social Sciences (Blackwell, 2007) and Qualitative Methods in Health Research (Sage, 2010). Dr. De Vries is co-editor of a special issue of Social Science and Medicine that examines how bioethics is shaped by social and cultural forces, and, together with Libby Bogdan-Lovis and Charlotte De Vries, co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Clinical Ethics on the ethics of choice of place of birth.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! View our archive of recorded lectures (over 30 lectures and counting!).