Conscientious Objection to Aggressive Interventions for Patients in a Vegetative State.
The American journal of bioethics : AJOB
Some physicians refuse to perform life-sustaining interventions, such as tracheostomy, on patients who are very likely to remain permanently unconscious. To explain their refusal, these clinicians often invoke the language of "futility", but this can be inaccurate and can mask problematic forms of clinical power. This paper explores whether such refusals should instead be framed as conscientious objections. We contend that the refusal to provide interventions for patients very likely to remain permanently unconscious meets widely recognized ethical standards for the exercise of conscience. We conclude that conscientious objection to tracheostomy and other life-sustaining interventions on such patients can be ethical because it does not necessarily constitute a form of invidious discrimination. Furthermore, when a physician frames their refusal as conscientious objection, it makes transparent the value-laden nature of their objection and can better facilitate patient access to the requested treatment.
Wasserman JA, Brummett AL, Navin MC, Menkes DL. Conscientious objection to aggressive interventions for patients in a vegetative state. Am J Bioeth. 2023:1-12. PMID: 38032547