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Volume 30 • Number 1

January 2016



Conscientious Objections Beyond the Context of Health Care

by Patrick Clipsham

A pressing question in the current political climate of the United States pertains to the extent to which individuals should be afforded legal and/or professional protection when they refuse to participate in or otherwise facilitate a particular practice because that practice conflicts with deeply held ethical or religious beliefs. One well-known example is the ruling by the US Supreme Court on the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The court determined that the owners of closely held corporations could not be forced to provide insurance to their employees that would cover forms of birth control they deemed to be ethically wrong. Even more recently, controversy has surrounded Indiana Senate Bill 101 (dubbed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act"), which "prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion" and was signed into law on March 26, 2015. These political developments raise several important and often discussed philosophical questions: What is the moral value of individual consciences, and are there overriding reasons to protect these individual consciences?

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ISSN: 2152-0542