CEU; Professional Right of Conscience


  • Margaret W. Beal CNM, PhD,

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    • Margaret W. Beal, CNM, PhD, is a Clinical Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. She is past Chair of the ACNM Division of Education and has practiced with Planned Parenthood of Connecticut.

  • Joyce Cappiello FNP, MS

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    • Joyce Cappiello, FNP, MS, is the Director of the ROE Consortium at The Abortion Access Project in Cambridge, MA. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of New Hampshire and is enrolled as a doctoral student at Swansea University, Wales.

Margaret W. Beal, CNM, PhD, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Charlestown Navy Yard, 36 First Avenue, Boston, MA 02129-4557. E-mail: margaret.beal@yale.edu


In recent years there have been numerous media reports of professionals attempting to expand the right of conscience and deny health care services requested by consumers. While the media has focused the most attention on pharmacists' right to refuse access to contraception, this trend is an expansion of the right originally established to protect professionals from being required to perform abortions or to provide direct assistance with abortions. State legislatures have addressed this issue, in some cases by overtly protecting consumers' rights and in other cases by broadening professional right of conscience. In this article, the literature on provider right of conscience is reviewed, and approaches advised by professional organizations are discussed.