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Prof. Wilson on Conscience Protection

Robin WilsonProfessor Robin Wilson, the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law, recently published her article, Empowering Private Protection of Conscience, 9 Ave Maria L. Rev. 101 (2010), in the Ave Maria Law Review, as part of the school’s symposium, The Future of Rights of Conscience in Health Care: Legal and Ethical Perspectives.

In the article, Prof. Wilson discusses federal conscience protections for health care providers. Conscience protections allow health-care personnel to refuse to provide or assist with abortion, sterilization, and other procedures if doing so would violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions. While protections are in place, enforcement of and recourse for those protections are rather unclear. Prof. Wilson addresses the protections federal law affords and what recourse, if any, providers may have, both private and administratively.

The article first traces the history and development of federal conscience protections for health-care providers. It then examines whether the Church Amendment in particular creates a private right of action, ultimately concluding that it does not. Prof. Wilson then explores the difficulty objectors would face if the Executive Branch chooses not to enforce the federal conscience protections. Prof. Wilson ultimately finds little recourse for conscientious objectors given the broad discretion accorded to agencies charged with enforcing the law, and concludes that a private right of action may be necessary to provide meaningful conscience protections to individual providers.

Congratulations to Professor Wilson on this accomplishment.

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