By Meg Jalsevac

  WASHINGTON, DC, February 9, 2007 ( – A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that the majority of doctors in the United States had objections to resorting to abortion to kill an unborn child if a contraception fails.  An even larger majority believe that it is ethically permissible for a physician to explain his moral objections to his patients. 

  The article entitled “Religion, Conscience and Controversial Clinical Practices” is published in the February 8, 2007 edition of the NEJM.

  1144 randomly selected physician from all specialties and medical fields responded to the survey.  The doctors were selected from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile which, according to the authors of the study, is a national database meant to include all US physicians.

  The study comes at a time where the rights of medical personnel in regards to matters of moral conscience are in particular debate. Several states have been recently embattled in the conscience clause debate and, as previously reported by, Planned Parenthood has spearheaded a national effort to require pharmacists to dispense contraception with the penalty for refusal being termination of employment.

  According to the NEJM study, 86% of doctors feel obligated to disclose all options to their patients and 71% believe that, if they themselves object to a requested procedure, they remain obligated to direct the patient to a physician who would not object. 

  Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, a thriving community of some 16,000 dedicated professionals, referred to the study results and said, “It is encouraging that the majority of physicians oppose such abortions.  It’s also encouraging to see that nearly 2/3 of doctors understand that it is good and right to explain their ethical stances to patients.” 

  Stevens expressed his disappointment that many doctors would compromise their own ethical beliefs by referring a patient to another doctor for a morally objectionable procedure.  “A professional has the right and even the duty to stand firm on ethical standards.” 

  Stevens called on lawmakers saying, “We need laws that protect physicians’ rights of conscience, and we need education to encourage doctors to stand firm on strong moral and ethical principles.”

  Dr. Al Weir of the Campus Ministry branch of the Christian Medical Association said, “Many medical students today are taught that there are no moral absolutes, and that a doctor’s role basically is to accommodate whatever the patient wants.  These students need to realize that being a professional means holding to moral standards that are above the doctor and the patient.” 

  Read the full NEJM article here:

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