Harm reduction and morally controversial behaviours: New legal and policy approaches to drug use, sex work, and physician-assisted dying

23 March 2015, 12h-14h, NCDH 316

Le Groupe de recherche en santé et droit de McGill vous conviait à sa dernière conférence de l'année universitaire, laquelle fut présentée par deux de ses membres, la professeure Alana Klein et le professeur Daniel Weinstock.

The speakers considered the growing tendency among public actors to reframe what were once considered morally controversial questions in terms of the reduction of harm.

Drawing on the examples of contemporary debates and legal developments around drug use sex work, and physician assisted dying, the workshop considered the potential benefits, risks and consequences of engaging with controversial issues through the logic and lens of harm reduction.

For example, it explored what motivates this type of framing, whether it can help achieve overlapping consensus around these fractious issues, as well as the moral limits of the use of this kind of reasoning in political and legal deliberation.

Population Biobanking, Autonomy and the Duty to Inform: Streamlining Access to Data while Protecting Participants

2 February 2015, 12h30-14h00, NCDH 316

Ma’n H. Zawati, Academic Coordinator at the McGill Centre of Genomics and Policy and DCL candidate at the Faculty of Law, gave a Seminar on Health and Law.


In research, Canadian courts have maintained that participants are entitled to a "full and frank disclosure" and that researchers' duties in that regard are as great, if not greater, than the duties owed by physicians in the clinical setting. That being said, the increasingly longitudinal and international nature of research challenges the feasibility of maintaining such an expansive duty to inform.

Take population biobanks as an example. These longitudinal studies are limited in terms of what information they can provide to research participants during the initial consent process.

On the one hand, they are increasingly encouraged to provide access to their collections, but on the other hand, they are unable to provide participants with “full disclosure” on the future use of their data at the time of recruitment.

By re-examining conceptions at the heart of the legal duty to inform, this presentation will discuss ways in which population biobanks can continue to streamline access to data while protecting research participants.


Ma’n H. Zawati (LLB, LLM) is a lawyer and the Academic Coordinator of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University. He is currently completing his Doctoral degree in law (DCL) at McGill University and is the Graduate Member of the McGill Research Group on Health and Law. Me Zawati is also an Associate Member of the University’s Biomedical Ethics Unit since 2013. His research focuses on the legal and ethical aspects of biobanking as well as the legal duties and liability of health care professionals in both the clinical and research settings. He has published numerous articles on issues such as access to genomic databases, the return of research results/incidental findings, the legal liability of physicians and the closure of biobanks. Me Zawati has also presented on these topics in Canada and internationally. Recently, the Young Bar Association of Montreal has named him as one of its “Lawyer of the Year” awardees for 2014.

Quelques défis de l’intégration des médecines non conventionnelles dans un système de soins cartésien

27 novembre 2014, 12h00-13h30, salle 316, Nouveau Pavillon Chancellor-Day

Conférence du Groupe de recherche en Santé et Droit avec le professeur Olivier Guillod, Directeur de l’Institut de droit de la santé, Université de Neuchâtel, Suisse.


Dans les pays occidentaux, la population demande, et utilise, de plus en plus de diverses médecines dites non-conventionnelles. Les uns y voient une ouverture bienvenue vers d’autres approches à la santé humaine. Les autres craignent un retour de l’obscurantisme.

Les juristes sont interpelés : quelle place aménager dans l’ordre juridique pour les médecines non-conventionnelles ? Faut-il règlementer leur pratique ? Faut-il les rembourser par la sécurité sociale ?

Ces questions, et d’autres, seront explorées à partir de l’exemple de la Suisse, seul pays européen à avoir un article de sa Constitution consacré à ces médecines.


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