Margaret Somerville

Margaret Somerville is Samuel Gale Professor of Law Emerita, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Medicine, and Founding Director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law Emerita at McGill University, Montreal. Currently, she is Professor of Bioethics at the University of Notre Dame Australia School of Medicine (Sydney campus) She has an extensive national and international publishing and speaking record and frequently comments in all forms of media. Her books include The Ethical Canary: Science, Society and the Human Spirit (Penguin 2000); The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit (Anansi 2006; CBC 2006 Massey Lectures) and Bird on an Ethics Wire: Battles about values in the culture wars (MQUP 2015).  Among her many honours and awards are the Order of Australia, Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, eight honorary doctorates, and the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science.

Searching for personal identity in a post-modern society:

25 Jul 2019
Clues from four disparate events 

‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’

15 Jul 2019
FDR's famous phrase was truer than he realised

The passing of a spiritual giant

13 May 2019
Canada's Jean Vanier lived an inspiring life of advocacy for the disabled

Can doctors be ‘neutral’ about assisted suicide and euthanasia?

14 Feb 2019
A leading medical association in the UK is polling its members about a change in policy

Our exhilarating, messy, crowded, joyful Christmas

7 Jan 2019
Deep Christian devotion is hidden beneath secularisation and scandal

The Canadian euthanasia express rolls on

9 Nov 2018
The right to life can be flipped into a right to die 

The integrative power of a “Why”

22 Oct 2018
What do amazement, wonder, and awe have to do with integrity?

The power of the Pope

19 Sep 2018
How many divisions does the Pope have, Stalin once sneered. None, but immense “soft power”.

Genetic disruption of human beings: creating “three parent IVF” babies

18 Jul 2018
Nothing is too dangerous or transgressive for rep tech.

Women, boards and quotas

15 May 2018
A few notes from personal experience

The age of amazement

7 Mar 2018
No matter how far science and technology progress, we cannot lose our sense of awe and wonder at the universe

40,000 years ago Mungo Man was carefully buried

23 Feb 2018
Are we losing our reverence for death today?

Navigating the ‘post-truth’ world

13 Dec 2017
Can this idea help us to understand debates over same-sex marriage and euthanasia?

The great divide in ethics over the mystery of human life

22 Nov 2017
Is there something special about humanity?

Complexity, uncertainty and potentiality in the euthanasia debate

23 Oct 2017
Such an important issue requires a high level of ethical sensitivity

Euthanasia: a failure of memory and imagination

28 Sep 2017
We need to look forward and backward to see how it will affect society

Whose rights are more important? The child’s or the parents’?

16 Aug 2017
If same-sex marriage involved only adults it would be much easier to accept it

The euthanasia slippery slope: a failure of memory and imagination

28 Jul 2017
When the splash of assisted-suicide and euthanasia blinds us to their far-reaching ripples.

If you have the ‘why’ of living, you can find the ‘how’

6 Jun 2017
Insights for the euthanasia debate from unpacking the concept of dignity

Do suicides increase where euthanasia is legal?

22 May 2017
The statistics suggest that the answer is yes

Are there ‘good suicides’ and ‘bad suicides’? Or are all of them bad? 

11 May 2017
An elderly Australian couple says that euthanasia is better than life in a nursing home

Shutting up by shouting down

17 Mar 2017
When an anti-euthanasia speaker at a doctors' conference is prevented from speaking, you know that something is very wrong

The importance of stories in the euthanasia debate

7 Mar 2017
The risks and harms to vulnerable people outweigh any possible benefits

Lessons from a Rabbit, a Cat and an Otter

28 Feb 2017
Three books that nurtured my respect for and love of animals and nature.

Lessons from indigenous wisdom in the euthanasia debate

23 Feb 2017
How a person dies affects others, not just in the present but in the future.

A flight from mystery

23 Jan 2017
Euthanasia strips death of its meaning at the time we need it most

Euthanasia: it’s a long, long, long way down

10 Jan 2017
One way to get rid of slippery slopes is to deny that they exist

Linking headlines: post-truth, euthanasia and elder abuse

15 Dec 2016
Feelings trump facts when thinking about euthanasia

Is departing from clinical guidelines always wrong?

25 Nov 2016
Doctors are not car mechanics with a repair manual that must be followed.

What would life be like without amazement, wonder and awe?

25 Oct 2016
We need them to give us hope

Why supporters of same-sex marriage call it ‘marriage equality’

17 Oct 2016
Cloudy and ambiguous language can be ethically perilous.

It’s about children’s rights, not sexual orientation

28 Sep 2016
Let’s clarify the issues in the same-sex marriage debate

Evicting religious voices from the public square is anti-democratic and discriminatory

31 Aug 2016
Interrogate belief systems; don’t dismiss them

Is it ethical to pay ransoms?

15 Jun 2016
Two Canadian men have been beheaded after the government refused to pay ransoms to Filipino terrorists.

It didn’t happen overnight

7 Jun 2016
The cultural and social changes of the past 50 years laid the groundwork for transgenderism.

Looking ahead for new transplant techniques

23 May 2016
An Italian surgeon wants to perform head transplants.

Making the best of a bad law

5 May 2016
If it's going to be legal, euthanasia in Canada should always be an exception which must be reviewed by a judge

What’s behind the demolition of conscience rights in Canada?

12 Apr 2016
Autonomy, choice, and tolerance are being used to justify euthanasia but these grand principles don't apply to opponents

Hope, the common good and our duty to the future

15 Mar 2016
A Canadian academic analyses the battle over values in her new book, Bird on an Ethics Wire.

Is Canada moving toward “totalitarian utopianism”?

26 Feb 2016
Members of Parliament should be allowed to vote according to their consciences on euthanasia

Next, limit the harm: proposals for Canada’s new euthanasia law

19 Feb 2016
When legalisation is inevitable its effects must be contained.

Designing our descendants

8 Jan 2016
Assisted human reproduction technology is growing ever more controversial.

‘Good for me’, but what about society?

28 Oct 2015
What Canada's top court left out in its judgment on assisted suicide.

May we tinker with the genetic heritage of humanity?

9 Jun 2015
Science fiction has become a reality.

Walking the walk of peace with Jean Vanier

19 Mar 2015
A personal tribute to the founder of the L'Arche communities.

My heart belongs to daddy

20 Feb 2015
The ethical complications of a website which matches up cash-strapped co-eds with millionaires.

Protecting doctors’ freedom of conscience

29 Jan 2015
Some practical steps would protect rights and prevent "ethical cleansing".

The complexities of consent to sexual intimacy

11 Dec 2014
In Canada and the US high profile media stars have been pilloried over allegations of sexual assault.

Putting child-bearing on ice

20 Nov 2014
The "ethical yuck factor" is a sound instinct.

Rejecting euthanasia, respecting the human spirit

30 Oct 2014
You don't need to be religious to respect the mystery at the heart of life.

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