Conscientious objection to canine pregnancy termination among veterinary surgeons

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


• The ethical aspects of human pregnancy termination have been much debated, but there has been comparatively little discussion of the ethical issues associated with pregnancy termination in companion animals.
• A recent study evaluating Turkish veterinarians’ opinions on the termination of unwanted pregnancies in dogs suggests that some veterinarians are exercising their right to conscientious objection, with reported reasons for refusal to perform this procedure including the possibility of pregnancy, the presence of a heartbeat and the viability of the fetuses.
• However, some veterinarians performed the procedure even though it went against their personal beliefs. The reasons given for this included the demands of the animal owner and institutional/workplace requirements.
• Although conscientious objection and its sequelae are not specifically addressed in the research paper, thought needs to be given to what happens to the animal and the owner in the face of refusal to perform pregnancy termination.
• In addition, the issue of informed consent must be considered when dealing with cases of unsuspected pregnancy in patients booked in for a routine spay. Decisions on whether to proceed with the spay need to be made in consultation with the animals’ owners rather than being taken solely by the individuals performing the surgery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-111
Number of pages3
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2024


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