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Denmark: Stig Hansen (Catholic doctors), “right to conscientious objection” must be respected

“It is important that the right of doctors to follow their conscience is recognized as a general principle”. John-Erik Stig Hansen, President of the Association of Catholic Doctors, wrote this in a statement to the Danish Medical Association that is currently reviewing its Code of Ethics. The Catholic Association welcomes the proposal for a text that has “a solid foundation in the Danish medical tradition and in sound humanist values”, but points to a “gap” which is particularly significant for Catholic doctors, who “in several cases” have already held “different opinions from the majority of society”. “By publicly upholding respect as a principle of medical ethics, individual doctors can be supported in their refusal to get involved in unethical activities”, the Danish doctor wrote. The right to conscientious objection is enshrined in the Council of Europe Resolution 1763 (2010) and is part of the Danish law on health that protects the right of healthcare workers to refuse medical assistance in abortion cases, Stig Hansen emphasised. The Catholic association asks that the principle of respect for the “ethical integrity of doctors” be extended to all areas of the medical industry.

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