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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

A Matter of Conscience: Religious Exemptions and the Healthcare Debate

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

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Michael F. Greene, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, Harvard University and 
the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
Melissa Rogers, Wake Forest University

Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Time: 5:15 PM
Location: Higgins Hall, Room 310

Abstract: The vigorous religious opposition to recent healthcare reform efforts has highlighted the divisive nature of birth control, abortion and end-of-life care in American public life.  How should healthcare providers, from individual pharmacists and physicians to large medical institutions, balance respect for personal conscience with professional responsibility?  Join our distinguished panel of medical, legal and religious leaders for a robust conversation on the ethics of conscience in the healthcare debate.

headshot of Dr. Michael Greene

Dr. Michael F. Greene is a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Chief of Obstetrics at Massachusetts General Hospital.  His residency and fellowship training were completed at the Boston Hospital for Women and Brigham and Women’s Hospital respectively. Dr. Greene’s major academic interests are in medical complications of pregnancy and congenital malformations.  He has chaired the Committee on Obstetrical Practice for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and was an Associate Editor of the 4th edition of “Guidelines for Perinatal Care”.  He served for four years (two as Chair) on the Advisory Committee for Reproductive and Urological Drugs of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the Food and Drug Administration, and continues to serve as a consultant to the FDA.  In those capacities, he advised the FDA regarding the conditions for final approval of Mifepristone (RU-486), and recommended changing the status of the prescription emergency contraceptive “Plan B” to over-the-counter.  He is currently a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Children’s Study being conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He is a Co-Chair of the March of Dimes Scientific Advisory Committee for preterm birth.  He has served as an Associate Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine since 1996.

headshot of Rev. J. Bryan Hehir

Rev. J. Bryan Hehir is the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is also the Secretary for Social Services in the Archdiocese of Boston. Prior to assuming these positions, Father Hehir served as President and C.E.O. of Catholic Charities USA from 2001-2003. Before that he served on the staff of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in Washington, D.C. and served on the faculty at Georgetown University. He also served as faculty and later Dean of Harvard Divinity School. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1984. His research and writing focus on issues of ethics and foreign policy, Catholic social ethics and the role of religion in world politics and in American society. Hehir’s publications include: “The Moral Measurement of War: A Tradition of Continuity and Change”; “Military Intervention and National Sovereignty”; “Catholicism and Democracy”; “Social Values and Public Policy: A Contribution from a Religious Tradition”; and “The Moral Dimension in the Use of Force."

headshot of Melissa Rogers

Melissa Rogers is the director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She is also a senior fellow within the Governance Program at the Brookings Institution. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Before working at Wake Forest, she served as the executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, she served as general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, where she helped the organization urge greater legal protection for free exercise rights. In 2009, President Barack Obama named her to his Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She is the co-author of a case book on religion and law entitled Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court (Baylor University Press, 2008).

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