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Health Care

Conscience Objections

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights issued a policy that expands protections for health care institutions and professionals who have objections to providing certain medical services based on their conscience and/or religious beliefs. Much of the resistance to this new policy comes from real concern for minority groups, specifically the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ people already face significant barriers when accessing health care, from interacting with health care providers who are unprepared and incompetent when it comes to LGBTQ patient care, to outright discrimination from clinical and non-clinical staff.

Providers motivated by certain religious beliefs are sometimes deeply conflicted due to competing dictates to serve humanity, especially the poor and disadvantaged, and religious teachings about sexual orientation and gender identify, among other dictates of their faith. By directly addressing these issues through thoughtful, non-judgmental training and education, Tanenbaum hopes to bring clarity and encourage shifts in views and policies evident in many faith-based care environments. The three modules are as follows:

  1. Personal Conscience: This section clearly defines key terms such as conscience, conscience rules, and conscience objections. It provides a brief overview of the law as it currently is, how it may be impacted by the implementation of the HHS policy, and it reviews some accommodation/compromise options for different situations.
  2. Professional Integrity: This module discusses how personal preferences are different from conscience objections and how providers and institutions and respect and manage them.
  3. Personal Preference: This module defines professional integrity and discusses what to do if a health care professional has an objection based on their professional integrity (e.g., a conflict with meeting the policy regulations or legal responsibilities that are a part of the profession, such as keeping the Hippocratic Oath in the medical field).

To learn more about Tanenbaum’s Health Care program, please contact us at healthcare@tanenbaum.org.


The Conscience Objections learning modules are made possible through the generous support of the:

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.