Medically valid religious beliefs

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Abstract

Patient requests for “inappropriate” medical treatment (violations of the standard of care) based on religious beliefs should have special standing. Nevertheless, not all such requests should be honored, because some are morally disturbing. The trouble lies in deciding which ones count. This paper proposes criteria that would qualify a religious belief as medically valid to help physicians decide which requests to respect. The four conditions suggested are that the belief (1) is shared by a community, (2) is deeply held, (3) would pass the test of a religious interpreter and (4) does not harm others.

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