Citizens are not obliged in conscience to follow the prescriptions of civil authority if their said precepts are contrary to the rule or demands of ethical/moral order, order against the fundamental rights of persons. – specially so when the persons concerned are normal in their psychological constitution and consequent ethical/moral standards. The “Voice of Right Conscience” is wherefore something that is binding to the person concerned to follow and abide with – specially so when it is clear and firm.
Specifically in conjunction with mandatory provisions imposed by the civil authorities upon the citizens concerned in the local, regional and/or national levels, when such normative injunctions are against ethical/moral standards and/or basic human rights, the said citizens are not obliged to follow, to obey or submit themselves thereto. Otherwise, they would not only allow the violation of their conscience but even affirm such unconscionable, downright unethical/immoral civil mandates.
Again: Even if the public authority is legitimate, people are not committed to respect and obey its legislations, provisions and/or demands when such are contrary to ethical/moral norms and/or derogative of human rights. This is because with the violation of the said norms, the public authority itself becomes unethical/immoral and wherefore has no legitimate claim to obedience from its constituency. And neither may the same authority legitimately exact or demand obedience to its prescriptions which are against human dignity and consequent human rights.
The truth of the matter is that those who make recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effect in their personal and/or professional standing. It is only when the incumbent civil authority is not only legitimate but also basically imbued with sound human values and pursuant sound perspectives, would it really allow “Conscientious Objection” and even protect the objectors from any penal liabilities for any wrongdoing.
“Conscientious Objection” is exactly that, i.e., objection according to the voice of one’s conscience. When human life is cheapened, when human dignity is trampled upon, when human rights are violated – these are the more serious reasons that bring about populist complaints, rallies, movements, and the like. The truth is that there is nothing like vigilance on the part of the people so that the public authority concerned will act with wisdom and prudence, with reason and understanding.