When compliance with a law is opposed to the personal convictions of any being, an ethical conflict occurs. This conflict appears between two dimensions: the law that must be respected and the individual conscience . In order to provide a solution between the two dimensions, there is the possibility of relying on conscientious objection.
This legal concept is based on the following idea: an individual can claim non-compliance with a law when it goes against his deep beliefs.
Logically, this proposal is a problem, since it is a form of civil disobedience. Due to its “questionable” dimension, in some countries certain limits are established for the application of this amount.
Traditionally, it applies in very specific circumstances: the use of weapons, abortion and euthanasia.
Let’s imagine a person who considers himself a pacifist. As a result of her convictions, she believes she cannot use weapons, as her pacifist conscience prevents her from doing so. If this person had to perform compulsory military service in his country, he could take advantage of conscientious objection if the current legislation contemplated this possibility. If the law does not include the option of conscientious objection, this person would be punished for his opposition to the use of weapons.
The issue of abortion raises controversy in many ways and, on occasion, the voluntary termination of pregnancy conflicts with personal conscience. If a doctor is opposed to abortion because of his personal or religious convictions, he can rely on freedom of conscience as long as the law contemplates this possibility.
Something similar happens with euthanasia, since in some countries legislation allows the interruption of life in certain cases; this can create great conflict for a doctor who opposes euthanasia.
This figure has certain limits.
We note that it could be applied to issues such as paying taxes or children’s schooling. So, in theory, someone could refuse to pay taxes on the grounds that they have very deep political convictions regarding tax matters. Likewise, a person could refuse to enroll their child in school because they felt that the educational system opposes their personal ideas.
As a general rule, limiting conscientious objection is based on a principle: it is not feasible for an individual to put his individual conscience first before limiting the rights of others.