Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Friday, September 18, 2020
On Sep. 30, I'll be moderating a Murphy Institute program on the legalization of physician-assisted suicide that was originally scheduled for this past March. So much about our world has changed since then, including the social context and political landscape of debate on this topic. Please join us as we explore these issues, in a Covid-era, user friendly, free and travel-less webinar.
Hot Topics: Cool Talk - Physician Assisted Suicide
Wednesday, September 30
This is the rescheduled date for the program, originally planned for March 18.
Assisted suicide is currently legal in ten jurisdiction in the United States: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Montana, Maine (starting January 1, 2020), New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Efforts are underway in many other states (including Minnesota) to enact similar laws. Join us in this extended edition of our Hot Topics: Cool Talk event series for a spirited but civil conversation about such laws between two advocates who take opposing views on this issue.
Friday, May 15, 2020
Hot Topics: Cool Talk
Who Matters? Who Cares?
Disability-Based Rationing of Health Care
Friday, May 22, 11am-12pm CST
Join us for a conversation between a disability advocate and a medical ethicist exploring the legal and ethical implications of policies for allocating scarce medical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on their impact on the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Registration is required. A link to join the webinar will be emailed to registrants on Friday, May 22 at 9am CST.
1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit has been applied for. Please include an Attorney Number with registration to claim CLE credit.
Charlie Camosy grew up in the cornfields of Wisconsin, but he is now an Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University in the Bronx, where he has taught since finishing his PhD in theology at Notre Dame in 2008. Among other places, his published articles have appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics, the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, the Journal of the Catholic Health Association, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News and America magazine. He is the author of five books. Too Expensive to Treat? (Eerdmans) was a 2011 award-winner with the Catholic Media Association, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics (Cambridge) was named a 2012 "best book" with ABC Religion and Ethics, and For Love of Animals (Franciscan) was featured in the New York Times. Beyond the Abortion Wars (Eerdmans), was also a 2015 award-winner with the Catholic Media Association. His most recent book, Resisting Throwaway Culture (New City), was published in May of 2019. In addition to advising the Faith Outreach office of the Humane Society of the United States and the Children's Hospital of New York, Camosy received the Robert Bryne award from the Fordham Respect Life Club and received the 2018 St. Jerome Award for scholarly excellence from the Catholic Library Association. He has four children, three of whom he and his wife Paulyn adopted from a Filipino orphanage in June of 2016.
Barnett (Bud) Rosenfield is a supervising attorney with the Minnesota Disability Law Center and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. For most of the past 22+ years, he has focused on individual and systems advocacy on Medical Assistance, social services, and civil rights issues for persons with disabilities. He currently oversees the Disability Law Center's Community Services & Integration and Policy teams. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Bud represented individuals in employment discrimination and civil rights cases. An avid baseball fan, he is trying to patiently await for the games to, once again, begin...
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Here is a statement on this important issue from the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. We worked hard to try to boil down some complicated ethical concepts into the essential basic ideas, to make it accessible to the widest audience who might need to use these arguments.
There's a snazzy infographic with the same message here, and we've posted a video with an even more basic description on Utube:
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Maine's Governor Janet Mills signed the bill that had passed in both chambers by narrow margins that legalizes assisted suicide in that state, joining California, Colorado, DC, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. This law was opposed by, among others, a coalition of disability advocacy groups in an open letter to Governor Mills that ends with the argument:
There are ways to address the reasons people have for requesting assisted suicide, but it starts with a societal commitment to treat all suicides as a tragedy, to respond to anyone’s expression of suicidal feelings with an equal level of support, affirmation of the value of their life and effort to address their concerns. A two-tiered system where most people get suicide prevention but certain people get suicide assistance is a deadly form of discrimination that should not be accepted. Assisted suicide laws exacerbate the disability stigma that prevails in our culture and undermine people’s genuine autonomy by establishing a medically administered program of suicide approval and assistance in a health care environment already riddled with pressures to cut costs of care.
The letter was signed by the following groups:
- American Association of People with Disabilities
- Assn of Programs for Rural Independent Living
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network
- Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
- National Council on Disability
- National Council on Independent Living
- National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities
- National Spinal Cord Injury Association
- Not Dead Yet
- The Arc of the United States
- United Spinal Association
Good news: The American Medical Association (AMA) upheld its long-standing opposition to assisted suicide by a vote of 392-162, holding that:
“Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Special Issue of Journal of Disability and Religion, "Navigating Impasses in Bioethics: End of Life, Disability, and Mental Illness"
The Journal of Disability and Religion has published a special issue with contributions from an interdisciplinary workshop on "Navigating Impasses in Bioethics: End of Life, Disability, and Mental Illness" that was jointly organized by the Von Hugel Institute of Critical Catholic Inquiry at Cambridge University, and the Murphy Institute of the University of St. Thomas in December 2017. As an apology for the delay in the publication, they are making the issue available on-line for free until the end of May -- a real deal, since the publication typically secured behind a fairly prohibitive pay-wall.
You can access the entire issue here.
My contribution explores "The Contradictory Expressive Functions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Physician-assisted Suicide Laws." Here's the abstract:
Certain laws, such as civil rights laws and criminal laws, are considered to have powerful expressive functions. The expressive functions may be directed at shifting social norms, or at articulating a social consensus about a particularly important norm. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is such a law, expressing the norm that “society’s accumulated myths and fears about persons with disabilities” are as debilitating as actual disabilities. This article will analyze the arguments of disability rights advocates that the expressive effect of laws legalizing physician-assisted suicide directly contradicts the norm of the ADA.
Here are links to the other excellent articles in the issue, written by scholars from many different disciplines, offering perspectives from the US, Europe, and Canada.
MAiD in Canada and the Homo Economicus View of Dignity: Inclusive Enough?, Thana C. de Campos
The Weight of Living: Autonomy, Care, and Responsibility for the Self, Patrick McKearney
“This Condition isn't Going to get any Better so I can't see why we're Prolonging it”: Risks and Benefits of using Empirical Research to Inform Normative Decisions Concerning End-of-Life Care, Elizabeth Fistein, Gemma Clarke, Anthony Holland & Stephen Barclay
Assisted Dying and Suicide Prevention, David Albert Jones
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
A truly great man passed from this life to the next two days ago -- Jean Vanier. He dedicated much of his 90 years of life to making the world a better place for people with disabilities, and, as a consequence, a better place for everyone in the world. He is probably best known for founding L'Arche, a worldwide movement dedicated to bringing men and women with disabilities into the heart of their societies, making their voices heard, and providing a true home and the opportunity to share everyone’s unique gifts to the fullest.
For the past two years, I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of L'Arche USA, supporting the work of L'Arche communities in the US. (In fact, I am leaving tomorrow for our bi-annual in-person board meeting, taking place in Erie, PA, where the very first L'Arche community in the US was founded in 1972.) I have truly come to appreciate the genius of Jean, and what he set in place back in 1964, when he moved into this little house in Trosley, France, with two men with developmental disabilities, Raphaël and Philippe.
In addition to his work with L’Arche, Vanier co-founded Faith and Light and inspired the creation of many other organizations. He influenced thousands of people around the world and published some 40 books, including on how people with intellectual disabilities make essential contributions to building a more humane society.
His most-widely read book is probably Becoming Human. Two more that I particularly treasure are Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Power of Weakness (with Stanley Hauerwas), and Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John.
His sister, Thérèse Vanier, who left a distinguished career as a pioneering doctor in palliative care to join the L'Arche movement, wrote the following beautiful prayer which captures so much of what you will find in Jean's writings, and his life's work:
“May oppressed people and those who oppress them set one another free. May those who are disabled and those who think they are not, help one another. May those who need someone to listen to them move the hearts of those who are too busy. May the homeless give joy to those who, albeit unwillingly, open their door to them. May the poor melt the hearts of the rich. May those who seek the truth give life to those who are satisfied because they have already found it. May the dying who do not want to die be comforted by those who find it very hard to live. May those who are not loved be authorized to open the hearts of those who are not successful in loving. May prisoners find true freedom and free others from fear. May those who sleep on the streets share their kindness with those who do not manage to understand them. May the hungry tear the veil from the eyes of those who do not hunger for justice. May those who live without hope purify the hearts of their brothers and sisters who are afraid of living. May the weak confuse the strong. May hatred be surmounted by compassion. May violence be neutralized by men and women of peace. May it surrender to those who are totally vulnerable, so that we may be healed.”
Monday, January 21, 2019
Supreme Court review of Indiana law prohibiting abortion based on race, sex, or diagnosis of disability
In case you missed it in the haze of the New Year celebrations, here's an excellent analysis (by Notre Dame's Carter Snead and Mary O'Callaghan) of the case argued before the Supreme Court on Jan. 2, challenging Indiana's law prohibiting abortions based on a child's "race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of . . . Down syndrome or any other disability." (See 7th Circuit opinion in Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health striking down the law here.) Snead and O'Callaghan point out that the 7th Circuit's denial of the petition for an en banc rehearing of the case includes a strong dissent by Judge Easterbrook, who argues: "Using abortion to promote eugenic goals is morally and prudentially debatable on grounds different from those that underlay the statutes Casey considered."
Snead and O'Callaghan argue:
Friday, October 26, 2018
We are looking for a new Program Manager for the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Law, Thought, and Public Policy, which I co-direct. The Institute is an interdisciplinary venture the University of St. Thomas the Center for Catholic Studies and the School of Law, working to engage the church, the academic community, and the public in rigorous discussions that bring historical and contemporary Catholic perspectives to bear on debates in law and public policy. From Augustine and Aquinas to Galileo and Thomas More, on to Montesquieu, Mother Teresa, Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis, the vibrant programs of the Murphy Institute plumb the interdisciplinary riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition and draw upon other academic disciplines and faith traditions to engage the church and community, facilitate scholarship, provide public policy analysis, and support student scholars.
A link to the job posting is HERE.