For an interesting article on this, please visit http://www.theannals.com/ (April 2009 issue)
Today more than ever before, healthcare professionals are under great pressure to practice the art and science of medicine according to pragmatic ideologies that fail to protect their rights of conscience. This is largely because patient autonomy (not something bad in itself), has been crowned as the highest bioethical principle. Unfortunately, the notion of autonomy has falsely come to be equated to the concept of human dignity. As a child in the womb is seen by some not to have any worth, so a woman who lacks autonomy may be perceived by some to have been stripped of her dignity. This ofcourse, is nonsense. The dignity of a person is not an add-on, it is inherent because that person belongs to the human species and therefore, regardless of their being or not autonomous, that person is worthy of respect.
Respect for the person also implies respect for their integrity; this respect is due to the body and to the spirit. Thus, just as it would be wrong to physically harm a person's body, so it is wrong to attack their spirit. This applies in a special way to healthcare workers who are being forced to act against the dictates of their conscience when the perceived rights of patients to non-lifethreatening, non-lifesaving "needs" are forced upon them.