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Drake Program to Address Moral Dilemmas in Law and Medicine

February 27, 2007
wolle
Charles R. Wolle

CONTACT: Timothy Eckley, American Judicature Society, 515-271-2288, teckley@ajs.org;

Katie Knorovsky, 515-271-1834, katie.knorovsky@drake.edu

In a society polarized by hot-button issues, morally sensitive topics can be extraordinarily divisive in the workplace. And for judges, lawyers, doctors and pharmacists, determining the role of an individual’s conscience can be problematic.

That conundrum will be the topic of a multidisciplinary program being presented jointly by Drake University Law School, the American Judicature Society and Drake’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. "Collisions of Conscience and Professional Responsibility: When Judges, Pharmacists, Lawyers and Doctors Choose Not to Serve," which is free and open to the public, will start at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 8, in room 213 of Cartwright Hall, 27th Street and Carpenter Avenue.

Expert panelists will explore the role of conscience in the legal and medical professions and whether refusing to provide services based on moral beliefs is consistent with professional obligations.

The featured panelists are:

• 3:05 p.m. – Dr. Amy M. Haddad, director of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics and the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss endowed chair in health sciences at Creighton University Medical Center. Haddad’s talk, titled "Balancing Access to Prescriptions and a Pharmacist’s Right to Conscientious Objection," will examine the right of a pharmacist to refuse to fill prescriptions for agents whose use they find morally objectionable, such as abortifacients, contraceptives and assisted-suicide prescriptions. She will argue that the basic duty to protect patients from potential harm is getting lost in the debate.

• 3:40 p.m. – John Leubsdorf, professor of law and the Judge Frederick B. Lacey distinguished scholar at Rutgers University. Leubsdorf’s talk, titled "Lawyers and Conscience: A Comparative Perspective," will explore when it is appropriate for the legal profession to be guided by conscience rather than by clearly defined legal duties or the wishes of the clients, drawing on examples of differing approaches to legal ethics in England, France and the United States.

• 4:15 p.m. – Dr. Lauris Kaldjian, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and director of the program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities. Kaldjian’s talk, titled "Medicine, Society and Conscientious Practice by Physicians," will navigate the competing obligations between preserving a physician’s integrity and promoting the patient’s good while acknowledging responsibilities to society and the unique vulnerabilities of patients within the special context of illness and health care.

• 5:00 p.m. – Charles R. Wolle, U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Iowa and former Iowa Supreme Court justice. Wolle’s talk, titled "Judges at the Intersection of Conscience and Professional Duty," will offer case scenarios that have sparked moral dilemmas, such as the impact of the Establishment Clause on prayers at public school commencement ceremonies; whether a woman can recover in a tort action for wrongful life stemming from a failed tubal ligation to prevent pregnancy, and the quandary surrounding death penalty cases.

An open panel discussion will follow the presentations. Approval has been granted for 1.75 hours of Iowa CLE credit as well as one hour of ethics credit.