Conscientious Objections in Health Care
Read more in the Deseret News
Professionals from around the country gathered at Brigham Young University on Friday, February 26, 2010 for the "Symposium on The Future of Rights of Conscience in Health Care: Legal and Ethical Perspectives." The symposium was co-sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, the Ave Maria School of Law
, and University Faculty for Life
“The Symposium on the Future of Rights of Conscience in Health Care addresses a subject of serious concern and legal issues that are arising with increasing frequency and which impact growing numbers of individuals and institutions in America today,” said Lynn G. Wardle, co-convener of the conference and Bruce C. Hafen Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. “Abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, and assisted suicide are among the most "high profile" subjects that arise, but many other specific dilemmas arise as well including cloning, autopsies, circumcision, etc. with significant implications.”
The symposium comprised of three sessions which were held throughout the day. The first session, “Legal History,” laid a legal foundation for the rest of the day’s discussion. Among the notable presenters from the first session were Robin F. Wilson, Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law and co-editor of the celebrated "Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, Emerging Conflicts (2008); Kent Greenawalt, Columbia University Law School authority of First Amendment; and Professor Cole Durham of J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, Director of the International Center for Law & Religious Studies, author of
numerous books about religious liberty, and the recipient in 2009 of the International First Freedom Award.
“Policy Perspectives” was the theme of the second session where, among fellow experts on the subject of policy, Lynn D. Wardle discussed the protection of providers’ rights of conscience in health care in America.
The final session took on the topics of the medical, philosophical and moral implications related to rights of conscience in health care.
“Many of the conscientious objections analysis focus on individuals..., but that doesn’t move us to a policy resolution,” said Rebecca Dresser, Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law and Professor of Ethics in Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. “This is why it’s important that we can discuss designing systems to avoid the conscientious objection emergency.”
Thomas Cavanaugh, Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, discussed the ethics of medicine and how rights of conscience relate to medical referrals.
“There is an internal ethic to medicine; health is the good that medicine seeks and sickness is the evil that medicine seeks to avoid,” Cavanaugh said. “Those are ethical terms. Health and sickness are ethical terms. Medicine has an intrinsic morality built into it.”
Papers presented at this symposium will be published in a symposium issue of the Ave Maria Law Review
in December, 2010. More information including program schedule, bios, and abstracts can be found at the symposium web site
“My hope is that the debate over conscientious objections will be a catalyst for paying more attention to moral objections in medicine in general,” Dresser said.
Posted:March 05, 2010