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October 2006 Issue

Larry Churchill, PhD, is the featured presenter of the 2006 Hutton Lectureship in Ethics
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Maternal-Fetal Research Topic of Hutton Lectureship

By Jill Hafner
Published October 2006

A nationally recognized authority on maternal-fetal research ethics will deliver UC’s 2006 Hutton
Lectureship in Ethics.

Larry Churchill, PhD, Ann Geddes Stahlman Chair of Medical Ethics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will discuss “Faith, Hope and Informed Consent: Ethical Challenges in Maternal-Fetal Research,” from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 9 in Kresge Auditorium.

Churchill will explore how religious convictions and optimistic expectations about maternal- fetal clinical trials can threaten the informed consent process and raise issues about recruitment and participation.

His talk will center on why parents agree to participate in a highly publicized and risky Vanderbilt clinical trial that uses innovative surgical techniques to treat fetuses with spina bifida lesions at 16 to 20 weeks gestation.

“Religion is a powerful source of ethical norms that shapes interpretations and actions,” says Churchill. “Parents agreeing to participate in this highly controversial study displayed a lot of what I call ‘common moral wisdom’—or reasoning through stories, parables, hunches or religious beliefs.”

This, he says, contradicts the bioethics model of reasoning through logic and analytical processes and raises questions about medical ethics and how physicians and clinical investigators should handle their patients’ religious views.

Churchill is widely published on the effects of medical ethics on human subjects, end of life decision making, social justice and U.S. health policy. His major books include Rationing Health Care in America, Self- Interest and Universal Health Care and Ethical Dimensions of Health Policy.

Churchill has a doctorate and a master’s of divinity from Duke University and holds secondary appointments in Vanderbilt’s graduate religion and philosophy departments and divinity school.

UC’s Hutton Lectureship in Ethics, now in its third year, is an endowed lectureship named in honor of John Hutton, MD, former dean of the UC College of Medicine.

Offered once a year, the lecture focuses on ethical topics facing today’s health care system.

The lecture is free and open to the public, but reservations are encouraged. For more information, call (513) 558-0910.

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