Development of a conceptual model and survey instrument to measure conscientious objection to abortion provision
Harris LF, Awoonor-Williams JK, Gerdts C, Gil Urbano L, González Vélez AC, Halpern J, Prata N, Baffoe P. Development of a conceptual model and survey instrument to measure conscientious objection to abortion provision. Plos One. October 2016; 13;11(10):e0164368
Background and Objective: Conscientious objection to abortion, clinicians' refusal to perform legal abortions because of their religious or moral beliefs, has been the subject of increasing debate among bioethicists, policymakers, and public health advocates in recent years. Conscientious objection policies are intended to balance reproductive rights and clinicians' beliefs. However, in practice, clinician objection can act as a barrier to abortion access-impinging on reproductive rights, and increasing unsafe abortion and related morbidity and mortality. There is little information about conscientious objection from a medical or public health perspective. A quantitative instrument is needed to assess prevalence of conscientious objection and to provide insight on its practice. This paper describes the development of a survey instrument to measure conscientious objection to abortion provision.
Methods: A literature review, and in-depth formative interviews with stakeholders in Colombia were used to develop a conceptualmodel of conscientious objection. This model led to the development of a survey, which was piloted, and then administered, in Ghana.
Results: The model posits three domains of conscientious objection that form the basis for the survey instrument: 1) beliefs about abortion and conscientious objection; 2) actions related to conscientious objection and abortion; and 3) self-identification as a conscientious objector.
Conclusions:The instrument is intended to be used to assess prevalence among clinicians trained to provide abortions, and to gain insight on how conscientious objection is practiced in a variety of settings. Its results can inform more effective and appropriate strategies to regulate conscientious objection.