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Life, Death, Medicine and Law: The Big Issues

Dr. Laura Hartman

Dr. Laura Hartman earned her PhD. in applied religious ethics, including medical, sexual, and environmental ethics, at the University of Virginia. At Augustana, she has taught medical ethics, sexual ethics, environmental ethics, Christian ethics, and Honors. Her current research is about ethics and transportation, which has led her to become a devoted bus-rider, avid biker, and urban hiking enthusiast.

Program dates: June 22-24, 2014

Program cost: $300

Includes lodging, all meals and any field trips. Students arrive on campus Sunday, June 22, and depart Tuesday, June 24.

Course description

Medical professionals have to wrestle with definitions of life and death as they determine whether and how to perform controversial procedures like abortion and euthanasia. In this course we look closely at the ideas behind the arguments for and against the legality of abortion and euthanasia. If students have strong opinions, or if they don't know what to think, they should come prepared to learn about the many sides of these complex issues. Anyone thinking of going into medicine, law, or politics would benefit from this quick but deep primer on medical ethics and public policy.

Tentative schedule

Sunday, June 22

  • 4:30 p.m. — Check-in
  • Welcome reception

Monday, June 23

  • 9 a.m. — Introductions, overview, and tools of ethics
  • 10 a.m. —Intro to Abortion: What is an abortion? What is the status of fetal life? Who decides?
  • 12:30 p.m. — Lunch break
  • 1:15 p.m. — Catch the bus to visit Planned Parenthood and Women’s Choice Center (On the bus — Roe v. Wade and its aftermath; local regulations in Iowa and Illinois)
  • 2:05 p.m. — Arrive at Planned Parenthood for tour
  • 3:05 p.m. — Arrive at Women’s Choice Center for tour
  • 4:05 p.m. — Catch the bus back to Augie (On the bus — Discuss trip and related topics)
  • 4:55 p.m. — Arrive back at Augie
  • 5 p.m. — Finish

Tuesday, June 24

  • 9 a.m.— Sum up from yesterday
  • 9:30 a.m. — Case: A Good Death for Gleason?
  • 10:30 a.m. — Terminating life-sustaining treatment: Terri Schiavo, Karen Quinlan, Nancy Cruzan
  • 11:15 a.m. — Defining death
  • 12 p.m. — Lunch break
  • 1 p.m. — Guest speaker: Courtney Watson, chaplain from Trinity Hospital
  • 2 p.m. — Physician Assisted Suicide: legal and moral arguments
  • 3 p.m. — Final wrap-up discussion
  • 3:30 p.m. — End of course