Law & Religion Roundtable

April 21-22, 2017

In recent years, a notable trend has emerged: religious claims in the delivery or denial of treatment in medicine, the withholding of medications at pharmacies, and the delivery of services to members of LGBTQ communities. For decades, religious objections have served as a foundational justification in the parent/child relationship, particularly with relation to vaccination care and other medical services, sometimes resulting in the deaths of children. These issues are in sharper focus in light of a robust LGBTQ movement that seeks legal protections and equality for members of its community, but too often encounters pushback from private industries and sometimes public institutions based on moral claims.

These issues are all the more urgent in light of debates on physician aid-in-dying.

How should scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers understand religious objections to engage with and provide services to communities often identified as vulnerable? Conscience clauses or “conscientious objections” carve out legal exceptions to permit behavior—justified by a religious oppositionthat otherwise would be deemed illegal or actionable. Should lawmakers grant religious or conscientious objections in a liberal democracy? Are human rights concerns implicated either on behalf of individuals harmed by law’s accommodation of religious objection or by those who claim a special right to be excluded from legal duties to the public or patients? How can lawmakers reasonably assess when a religious objection is sincere, informed, or valid?

This roundtable focuses on the values and principles at the intersection of law, society, and religion. Specifically, roundtable participants will scrutinize the tensions between law and religion in relation to four key thematic areas: reproductive rights and reproductive justice; physician aid-in-dying; LGBTQ concerns and the law; and parent/child relationships in medical care.

Participation in the Law and Religion roundtable is by invitation.

  • Michele Bratcher Goodwin

    Chancellor's Professor of Law
    Director, Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy
    University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Robin Fretwell Wilson

    Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law
    Director, Program in Family Law and Policy
    Director, Epstein Health Law and Policy Program
    Professor, Department of Pathology, College of Medicine
    University of Illinois College of Law
  • Frances Kissling

    Former President, Catholics for Free Choice
    Author, Guide for Prochoice Catholics: The Church, the State Abortion Politics
  • Louise Melling

    Deputy Legal Director
    Director, Center for Liberty
    American Civil Liberties Union
  • Michael Moreland

    Professor of Law
    The Law School
    University of Notre Dame
  • Douglas NeJaime

    Professor of Law
    Faculty Director, Williams Institute
    University of California, Los Angeles Law
  • Michelle Oberman

    Katharine and George Alexander Professor of Law
    Santa Clara University School of Law
  • David Orentlicher

    Samuel R. Rosen Professor of Law
    Co-Director, William S. and Christine S. Hall Center for Law and Health
    Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

  • David M. Smolin

    Harwell G. Davis Professor of Constitutional Law
    Director, Center for Children, Law and Ethics
    Samford University Cumberland School of Law
  • Harriet A. Washington

    Author, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
    Winner, National Book Critics Circle Award

  • Laurie Zoloth

    Professor of Religious Studies
    Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities
    Charles McCormick Deering Professor of Teaching Excellence
    Northwestern University


CBGHP Activities

Tune in for On The Issues with Michele Goodwina Podcast hosted by Professor Goodwin!

April 26, 2021: Town Hall on Inclusive Healthcare in UC System

REWATCH: Advancing Women's Equality: What's Next?


March 10, 2021: Advancing Women's Equality: Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

March 1, 2021: Ongoing Challenges of Disability Discrimination in Law, Politics & Society

February 19, 2021: Reckoning and Reconciliation: Art, Architecture, and Culture in Contested Sites

February 8, 2021: Advancing Women's Equality: Race, Sex, and Policing in America

January 13, 2021: Advancing Women's Equality: Women, Mass Incarceration, and Criminal Justice

October 30, 2020:  Women on the Frontlines: COVID & Beyond

October 7, 2020: The Appeal & Now This: Ending Legalized Slavery In U.S. Prisons

June 4, 2020:  A Conversation on Protecting Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Times of Political Crisis 

June 30, 2020: After June Medical Services: The Past, Present, and Future of Regulating Reproduction

June 30, 2020: Elevating and Engaging with Black Lives on Law School Campuses

May 14, 2020: UCI Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center Panel on COVID-19

May 13, 2020: Michele Goodwin on Quarantine and the Limits of Government Action - COVID-19 & The Law Series

May 12, 2020: Panel Discussion: Reproductive Health & Rights in a Time of Coronavirus

May 4, 2020: Disparate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color hosted by American Constituion Society 


Michele Goodwin
(949) 824-3897

Nassim Alisobhani
(949) 824-5601 

Merima Tricic
Senior Fellow