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Conscientious Objection in Reproductive Health Care: Analysis of Pichon and Sajous v. France

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This article explores the issue of conscientious objection invoked by health professionals in the reproductive and sexual health care context and its impact on women's ability to access health services. The right to exercise conscientious objection has been recognized by many international and European scholars as being derived from the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It is not, however, an absolute right. When the exercise of conscientious objection conflicts with other human rights and fundamental freedoms, a balance must be struck between the right to conscientious objection and other affected rights such as the right to respect for private life, the right to equality and non-discrimination, and the right to receive and impart information. Particularly in the reproductive health care context, states that allow health professionals to exercise conscientious objection must accommodate this in such a way that its exercise does not compromise women's access to health services. This article analyses the European Court of Human Rights' decision on admissibility in Pichon and Sajous v. France (2001) and argues that a balancing approach should be applied in cases of conscientious objection in the sexual and reproductive health care context.

Affiliations: 1: Mgr. (University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik, Slovakia, 2000), LL.M. (University of Toronto, 2006), PhD. (Charles University in Prague, 2007)


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