Are religion and bioethics at odds with each other?

Competent adult patients have the right to practice their own religious beliefs as long as those beliefs do not infringe on the rights of others. Once the health care team recognizes that the adult is exercising his or her right to autonomy, they may not agree with the decision, but they should abide by it.

This becomes more complicated when parents make decisions, based on religious practices, on behalf of their young children. For example, if a parent refuses a life-saving procedure, the health care team may request a legal consultation based on the best interest of the child. However, the health care team will try to work out a solution with the parents prior to any attempt to override their parental authority. These cases are not common and the benefits of the procedure would be weighed against the risks involved. For example, if the procedure had a small chance of saving the child, then the likelihood of overriding the parent's authority may be less. These are handled on a case-by-case basis because there is no right choice for all situations.

Ahronheim, J. C., Moreno, J.D, & Zuckerman, C. (2005). Ethics in Clinical Practice (2nd Ed.). Jones and Bartlett: MA.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.