Welcome to the homepage for the Conscience Research Group

We were a research group based at the University of Western Ontario and at Dalhousie University from 2010-2015. We specialized in health care ethics and health law, and investigated the permissibility of conscientious refusals by health care professionals to provide health care services, particularly reproductive services such as abortions. Our work was generously funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Our research focused on the nature and value of conscience; the impact that conscientious refusals can have on patients, especially women, who are denied care; and moral and legal limits on permissible refusals. We sought to determine what it means for a refusal to be a matter of conscience, and what is morally and legally at stake in denying or allowing health care professionals the ability to make conscientious refusals. The results of this research helped us to develop a model policy on conscientious refusals in medicine. We were also aided in this process by consultations we had with health policy makers. Our policy was published as the paper, “Moving Forward With a Clear Conscience: A Model Conscientious Objection Policy for Canadian Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons,” in the Health Law Review in 2013.