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The debate about positive and negative claims of conscience is, in large part, about ethical consistency. In this commentary I argue that there can be differences between conscientious provision of treatment and conscientious nonprovision of treatment that are ethically relevant. However, in many cases, including those described in this commentary, there is not sufficient ethical reason to treat them differently. This means that asymmetrical conscientious objection policies are potentially unjustified.


Journal article


The Journal of clinical ethics

Publication Date





143 - 145


Professor of Medical Ethics, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, and Consultant in Newborn Intensive Care, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford UK; Honorary Research Associate at Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.