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McGill Research Group on Health and Law

Health Law at McGill (picture of Themis and Hermes)

Moralism and Long Game Healthism in Public Health Ethics

September 11, 2014, 14:00-15:30, Institute for Health and Social Policy seminar room

Join us for a talk by John Coggon, Professor of Law and the Philosophy of Public Health, University of Southampton.

Building on evidence concerning the social determinants of health, a growing body of works within public health ethics has developed that sees sound health policy as being founded on concepts of social justice. However, there are scholars who deny the validity of theories that recommend the redistribution of resources with the aim of improving population health. Such protagonists advance arguments on empirical, theoretical, and normative grounds. Within public and political arenas, furthermore, we can observe a dominant position given to individual liberty, and a resistance to coercive policies, which are viewed as ‘nanny-statism’.

In parallel with the apparently irresolvable ideological debates, therefore, we find putative middle-way approaches to health policy, such as ‘nudge’. These are given as a theoretically and ethically robust—and practically realisable—means of achieving better health, without offending apparent side-constraints on what constitutes legitimate government activity.

With a focus on strategy and practical developments in relation to tobacco regulation, this paper explores political morality in long game health policies. It compares, and draws parallels between, debates on legal moralism and health promotion, and questions why concerns about moralism seem less acute when a goal—say eradication of smoking—is aimed to be achieved over decades, rather than through near-term prohibition.

Organized by the Institute for Health and Social Policy, and co-sponsored by the Montreal Health Equity Research Consortium and the Research Group in Health Law.

Location: IHSP seminar room, Charles Meredith House, 1130 Pine Avenue West, Montreal

RSVP/Queries to jurgen [dot] dewispelaere [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Venue is wheelchair accessible.


We are recruiting

The Research Group on Health and Law (RGHL) is looking for an undergraduate law student representative for the academic year 2014-2015. Pour connaître les critères d'admissibilité et davantage d'information, consulter notre page d'appel à candidatures.


La réforme des soins de fin de vie et le regard du droit comparé

9 mai 2014, à la Faculté de droit de McGill

L’Association québécoise de droit comparé (AQDC) tiendra son colloque annuel le vendredi 9 mai 2014, dans le Tribunal-école Maxwell-Cohen (Pavillon Chancellor-Day, salle 100) entre 13h30 et 17h30.

Vous êtes tous cordialement invités à profiter du programme intitulé "La réforme des soins de fin de vie et le regard du droit comparé", lequel se déroulera sous la présidence de la Protectrice du citoyen du Québec, Mme Raymonde Saint-Germain.

Consultez le programme en PDF sur le site de l’AQDC. Le colloque sera précédé de l'Assemblée générale annuelle de l’AQDC à 13h00.

Les principes et les mutations de l’expertise dans la culture juridique française : un regard comparé avec le projet de réforme de l’expertise au Québec

Le 27 février 2014, Groupe de recherche en santé et droit accueillait le professeur Etienne Vergès de l'Université de Grenoble. Le professeur Vergès a gracieusement accepté de partager ici sa présentation [.pdf] en ligne.

Résumé

Le modèle français de l’expertise est imprégné de la culture juridique française. Cette culture est marquée par l’idée que, dans tout litige, il existe une vérité, et que l’objet du procès est de faire émerger cette vérité.

Les règles relatives à l’expertise sont inspirées de cette philosophie. Dans le modèle procédural classique, un expert judiciaire est désigné par le juge et il est chargé de dévoiler la vérité scientifique qui permettra de résoudre le litige. La controverse scientifique est relativement absente de ce modèle.

Pourtant, au cours des dernières décennies, cette culture a subi des mutations sous l’impulsion de nombreux phénomènes : apparition d’incertitudes scientifiques incontournables, développement de l’expertise privée dite « amiable », et création d’une procédure de recherche des preuves entre les parties et avant tout procès (procédure participative).

La conférence proposait donc de présenter les grands principes qui dominent le droit de l’expertise en France et les mutations contemporaines de ce mode de preuve. Elle a mis ces règles en perspective avec le projet de réforme de l’expertise au Québec.

January 22, 2014: Banning food ads aimed at children: Is Quebec’s regulatory model still cutting-edge?

For its 2014 Interdisciplinary Panel, the McGill Research Group on Health and Law invited Bill Jeffery, National Coordinator, Centre for Science in the Public Interest; Dr. Kristin Voigt, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Dept of Philosophy, McGill University; and Dr. Monique Potvin Kent, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa (see the calendar entry for biographies).

Abstract

For more than 30 years, Quebec has had some of the strictest consumer protection legislation in the world, banning commercial advertising directed at children under the age of 13. The Supreme Court of Canada famously upheld the ban as a justifiable restriction on freedom of speech in the 1989 decision in Irwin Toy v. Quebec (Attorney General), chiefly because of children’s unique vulnerability to advertising.

A current private member’s bill would seek to expand Quebec’s approach to Ontario. Further jurisdictions also look to Quebec as a model. Yet, restrictions on food advertising to children continue to attract controversy, with disputes over their effectiveness in curbing diet-related illness among children; their scope; their flexibility in the age of new forms of media and marketing; and their value in relation to industry-led approaches.

This interdisciplinary panel will explore legal, ethical, social science and policy dimensions of restrictions on food advertising to children, with a focus on the role of evidence in crafting public health policy and regulating industry practice.

RGHL/IHSP Annual Lecture with Thomas Pogge: Paying for Health Impact

Thomas PoggeOn October 11, 2013, the McGill Research Group on Health and Law (RGHL), in collaboration with the Institute for Social and Health Policy (IHSP), hosted its 6th Annual Lecture. It had the pleasure of welcoming renowned philosopher Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. Professor Pogge’s lecture, “Paying for Health Impact”, discussed an innovative idea, the Health Impact Fund (HIF), a mechanism intended to improve access to new medicines worldwide.

Professor Pogge explained how the HIF would give pharmaceutical innovators the option to be rewarded according to the incremental health impact of their product rather than through a patent-protected mark-up. This way, the HIF aims to stimulate the development of high-impact medicines (especially for currently neglected diseases), ensure their availability at low cost, and encourage innovators to market such medicines with the aim of reducing the global disease burden.

Abstract

One-third of all human lives end in early death from poverty-related causes. Many of these premature deaths are avoidable through global health system reforms, including to the existing patent regime. The latter provides incentives for the development and distribution of new medicines; but it also leaves gaps, especially in poor regions. The Health Impact Fund (HIF) is a mechanism intended to fill these gaps and to improve access to new medicines worldwide.

The HIF would give pharmaceutical innovators the option to be rewarded according to the incremental health impact of their product rather than through a patent-protected mark-up. The HIF would stimulate the development of high-impact medicines (especially for currently neglected diseases), would ensure availability at low cost, and would encourage innovators to market such medicines with the aim of reducing the global disease burden.

The feasibility of this reform shows that the existing medical-patent regime is severely unjust. Professor Pogge will (a) introduce the HIF proposal and its moral justification, (b) discuss its implementation, funding, and economic viability, (c) explain its advantages for pharmaceutical firms as well as the benefits for the health and welfare of affluent and poor populations and (d) report on efforts to pilot the HIF idea in particular jurisdictions.

14 mars 2013: Le principe de précaution devant le juge civil

Mathilde BoutonnetMathilde Boutonnet, Maître de conférences en droit privé, Titulaire de la Chaire CNRS droit de l’environnement, Université Aix-Marseille.

Mathilde Boutonnet, Maître de conférences en droit privé and Titulaire de la Chaire CNRS droit de l’environnement at Université Aix-Marseille, gave a workshop on the treatment of the precautionary principle by the civilian judge applying private law principles.

In addition to addressing the use of the precautionary principle in the context of environmental liability, Prof. Boutonnet discussed the application by civilian judges of this principle to private litigation involving issues of health and safety.

She demonstrated that the precautionary principle has a role in both prevention and reparation in private law matters affected by scientific uncertainty as risks to environment and health.

13 February 2013: Listening for Lawyers

Dr Abraham FuksAbraham Fuks, Professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University and member of the Research Group in Health and Law, gave a workshop on February 13, 2013 on Listening for Lawyers.

Dr. Fuks analyzed the critical role that active listening plays in overcoming obstacles and building trust within the client-advocate relationship.

He explored the societal, professional and personal barriers to skillful listening, while examining the vital role that listening plays in effective client-centred advocacy by drawing parallels between the physician-patient relationship in healing and the lawyer’s relationship with their client.

30 January 2013: Equality and Health: Reaching for Resolution in the Realms of Disability Rights?

This year's Annual Lecture in Health and Law was presented by Anna Lawson, Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds.

Ms Lawson's lecture reflected on the relationship between the concepts of equality and health in the disability context. It considered ways in which the demands of “health” have often been used to override those of “equality”. As well as having profound implications for the lives of disabled people, this has had significant political and theoretical repercussions. The harmful impact of neglecting the demands of equality on the health of disabled people was also considered.

The lecture concluded by a reflection on the extent to which tensions between “equality” and “health” have been resolved, and on what factors, if any, are contributing to achieving greater reconciliation. This discussion was set against the backdrop of international developments and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This event was organized in collaboration with McGill's Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

Sex Work, Rights, and the Criminal Law: Reflections on Bedford v. Canada

On October 31, the RGHL welcomed over 100 students, lawyers, professors and stakeholders to Sex Work, Rights, and the Criminal Law: Reflections on Bedford v. Canada, the RGHL's interdisciplinary panel for the 2012-2013 academic year. Read about the panel in Focus online's November 2012 edition.

The panel, moderated by Professor Alana Klein (leftmost), brought together three panelists from different professional settings to address various issues associated with the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision in Bedford v. Canada. 

Alana Klein, Daniel Weinstock, Tara Santini, Alan Young

Our panelists were Professor Daniel Weinstock, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Ms Tara Santini, Member of Stella and Consultant for Stella for Intervening Sex Worker Coalition in Bedford v. Canada; and Professor Alan N. Young, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and counsel in Bedford v. Canada.


Health as a social and academic priority

Health issues are at the forefront of modern social preoccupations in Canada. McGill’s Faculty of Law offers an array of opportunities for those who seek to explore these issues through academic study and research.

Public health, aging, health and the environment, biotechnologies, global health, the growing prevalence of obesity and other chronic health conditions and illnesses, HIV/AIDS and the spread of infectious diseases, access to health care institutions and technology, the governance of health care institutions, human rights and health, clinical research and the protection of human research subjects, social diversity and health, and Aboriginal health exemplify topics of preeminence in the minds of Canadians that McGill’s Faculty of Law has also identified as priorities.

A tradition

McGill’s Faculty of Law has a strong tradition in health law. Emeritus Professor Paul-André Crépeau (1975-1994) published a seminal work titled La responsabilité civile du médecin et de l'établissement hospitalier in 1956, which contributed in a major way to the development of Medical Law in Quebec. It houses the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, founded in 1986, whose founding director, Margaret A. Somerville, is a prominent scholar in Bioethics. The Crépeau Centre for Private & Comparative Law , founded in 1975, also demonstrates the Faculty’s commitment to health law through, inter alia, the work of Me Pierre Deschamps C.M., Project Director - Medical Law and the Ethics of Research and Organisations.

Teaching and research in health law

McGill University and its Faculty of Law offer an exceptional and unique space for transsystemic, comparative and pluridisciplinary pedagogy and scholarship on health law matters. A number of courses that address health law and policy questions are offered to our undergraduate and graduate students. Several colleagues also act as supervisors to graduate students working on projects that deal with issues of health and medical law.

Health research initiatives underway at McGill’s Faculty of Law investigate diverse themes of pressing importance within both academic and societal realms. The Law Faculty is also host to various research centres which oversee work bearing a direct impact on health issues. In recognition of the growing importance of this discipline, the McGill Research Group on Health and Law was formed with a view to advancing health law research within the Faculty of Law.

Vibrant student initiatives

Students at McGill Law are also at the core of the Faculty’s commitment to teaching and research in the area of health law. The Faculty-wide enthusiasm for health law studies is demonstrated by student initiatives such as the McGill Journal of Law and Health.