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R. Alta Charo, "Creating Life and Protecting Research"


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Religion and medicine have historically gone hand in hand, but increasingly have come into conflict in the U.S. as health care has become both more secular and more heavily regulated. Law has a dual role here, simultaneously generating conflict between religion and health care, for example through new coverage mandates or legally permissible medical interventions that violate religious norms, while also acting as a tool for religious accommodation and protection of conscience.

This conference identified the various ways in which law intersects with religion and health care in the United States, examined the role of law in creating or mediating conflict between religion and health care, and explored potential legal solutions to allow religion and health care to simultaneously flourish in a culturally diverse nation.

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R. Alta Charo, "Creating Life and Protecting Research"

  1. 1. Creating  Life  and   Protecting  Research   R.  Alta  Charo   School  of  Law,  and   School  of  Medicine  &  Public  Health   University  of  Wisconsin  
  2. 2. 19th  century   The  Age  of  Invention  
  3. 3. Early  20th  Century  
  4. 4. Mid-­‐20th  Century   “Now  I  am  become  death,  the  destroyer   of  worlds.”  
  5. 5. Fear  of  Environmental   Destruction  
  6. 6. Asilomar  
  7. 7. I980s  -­‐  IVF  
  8. 8. From  cloned  cells  to  jail  cells…  
  9. 9. Is  this….  
  10. 10. The  same  as  this?  
  11. 11. The  21st  Century    
  12. 12. Describing  Venter’s  work   !   “another  triumph  of  the  only  major  scientific   programme  driven  from  the  beginning  by  explicit   atheism.  Francis  Crick,  the  co-­‐discoverer  of  the   structure  of  DNA,  was  a  militant  atheist,  who  refused   to  accept  a  job  at  a  newly  founded  Cambridge  college   if  it  had  a  chapel,  and  who  invented  molecular   biology  partly  to  prove  there  was  nothing  special  or   mystical  about  life:  it  was  just  the  behaviour  of   complex  chemicals  acting  in  accordance  with  the   normal  laws  of  nature.”     !   Andrew  Brown,  “Has  Venter  made  us  gods?  Does  Craig  Venter's  creation  of  life   in  the  laboratory  finally  squeeze  God  right  out  of  the  scientific  universe?”  The   Guardian  (20  May  2010)  
  13. 13. “Yet,  using  inanimate  material  for  the  production  of  entities  fulfilling  widely   accepted  criteria  of  life  ….  would  mark  an  ontological  and  cultural  paradigm  shift.   Taking  into  account  that  the  boundary  between  life  and  the  inanimate  plays  a   fundamental  role  in  the  governing  and  stabilizing  power  of  the  common  sense  and   of  many  religions,  it  is  apparent  that  any  damage  to  this  principle  would  be   irreconcilable  with  these  world  views.”       Peter  Dabrock,  Playing  God?  Synthetic  biology  as  a  theological  and  ethical  challenge.  Syst  Synth  Biol.  2009  Dec;  3(1-­‐4):  47– 54.  Published  online  2009  Oct  10.    
  14. 14. First  Amendment   !   Are  the  cloning  laws  that  reach  to  research  uses   (without  producing  a  fetus  or  a  baby)   unconstitutional?   !   Can  research  be  protected  by  the  First  Amendment   !   Right  to  publish?   !   Right  to  do  research  as  a  precursor  to  publication?   !   Right  to  do  research  as  expressive  conduct?  
  15. 15. Historical  Examples  of   Expressive  Conduct  
  16. 16. U.S.  v  O’Brien  (1968):   A  governmental  regulation  is  sufficiently  justified  if  it  is   within  the  constitutional  power  of  the  Government  and   furthers  an  important  or  substantial  governmental   interest  unrelated  to  the  suppression  of  free  expression,   and  if  the  incidental  restriction  on  alleged  First   Amendment  freedom  is  no  greater  than  is  essential  to   that  interest.    
  17. 17.  Richard  Dawkins:  Well,  Craig,  you're  obviously  proving  that  real   intelligent  design  works.    Craig  Venter:  Absolutely.    Richard  Dawkins:  But  are  you  sometimes  accused  of  playing  God?    Craig  Venter:  My  flippant  answer  is,  “I  don't  play  mythical  characters.”  
  18. 18. Texas  v.  Johnson  (1988)   !   ”If  there  is  a  bedrock   principle  underlying  the   First  Amendment,  it  is  that   the  Government  may  not   prohibit  the  expression  of   an  idea  simply  because   society  finds  the  idea  itself   offensive  or  disagreeable."  
  19. 19. Can  Some  Research  be  a  Crime  of   Blasphemy?  
  20. 20. Pause  vs  Prohibition  
  21. 21. “What  I  cannot  create,  I  do  not   understand”  –  Richard  Feynman