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Physician Rights and Responsibilities

Right of Conscience

The WSMA believes in a healthcare professional's right to practice within their Right of Conscience and opposes discriminatory policies against physicians who exercise these rights. (Res B-1, A-11)

The WSMA believes that physicians may choose whom to serve. Accordingly, except in emergencies, they may refuse to provide a treatment to which they object on the basis of religious or moral beliefs. However, other principles balance this prerogative with obligations to respect patients and their ability to access available medical care. Therefore, a conscientious objection should, under most circumstances, be accompanied by a referral to another physician or health care facility. (Res B-1, A-11)

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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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