Conscientious Objection to Abortion in the Developing World: The Correspondence Argument

Himani Bhakuni*, Lucas Miotto Lopes

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this paper we extend Heidi Hurd’s “correspondence thesis” to the termination of pregnancy debate and argue that the same reasons that determine the permissibility of abortion also determine the justifiability of acts involving conscientious objection against its performance. Essentially, when abortion is morally justified, acts that prevent or obstruct it are morally unjustified. Therefore, despite conscientious objection being legally permitted in some global south countries, we argue that such permission to conscientiously object would be morally wrong in cases of morally justifiable termination of pregnancy. After presenting and defending our “correspondence argument” we suggest that conscientious objection should be denied as a matter of public health policy in developing counties, even in cases where adequate referral services are possible. Towards the end, we extend our argument to midwives, nurses, and prospective students in the field. Given their essential position in resource‐poor contexts; they too have no claim to conscientious objection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-95
JournalDeveloping World Bioethics
Issue number2
Early online date4 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • conscientious objection
  • abortion
  • global south
  • nurses and midwives
  • correspondence thesis

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